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Full text of "Christmas books [microform]"

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CHRISTMAS 
BOOKS 



BY 



CHARLES DICKENS 



Thomas Nelson and Sons Ltd. 

London Edinburgh New York 

Toronto and Paris 



C4-Z 



230871 



Charles Dickens was horn at Landport, near Portsmouth 
on February y, 1812. and died at Gadshill, near Rochester 
Kent, on June g, i8yo. 

His most important works are : " Sketches by Boz " 
c I' ll^f'^"^''^ Papers" {1837). "Oliver Twist" 
{1839). Nicholas Nicklehy" {1839). "Master Hum- 
phrey s Clock " {1840), " The Old Curiosity Shop " (1840) 
^i^fnaby Rudge" (1841), "American Notes" (1842)' 
Martin Chuzzlewit" {1844), "Pictures from Italy" 
{1846) ' Domhey and Son " {1848), " David Copperfield " 
Yl^o)' I Christmas Books" {1852), "Bleak House" 
\i«53), A Child's History of England' (1854), "Hard 
Times'^ {1854). "Little Dorrit" {1857), "A Tale of Two 
Cities {i85g), "Great Expectations" {1861) "Our 
Mutual Friend " {1865), " The Uncommercial Traveller " 
ii86g), " The Mystery of Edwin Drood " {1870) and 
"Christmas Stories " {1874). The dates given are those 
Of first publication in book form. 

^^ All these are included in the Nelson C ^ssics, with 
American Notes " and " Master Humphrey's Clock " in 
one volume, and "Edwin Drood" and " Pictures from 
Italy " m one volume. The most popular volumes appear 
also m the Winchester Classics. 



CONTENTS, 



A Christmas Carol, 

The Cricket on the Hearth, 

The Chimes. 

• • • ,, , 

The Haunted Man and the Ghost's Bargain^ 
The Battle of Life, 



? 

349 



A CHR IS TJl/A S CAROL 

In Prose, being 
A GJiost Story of Christmas 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 



-♦♦- 



STAVE ONE. 
Ma K ley's ghost. 



Marley wis dead, to begin with. There is nc doubt what- 
ever about that. The register of his burial was signed by the 
clergyman, the clerk, the undertaker, and the chief mourner. 
Scrooge signed it, and Scrooge's name was good upon 
Change for anything he chose to put his hand to. Old 
Marley was as dead as a door-nail. 

Mind ! I don't mean to say that I know, of m^' own know- 
ledge, what there is particularly dead about a or-nail. I 
might have been inclined, myself, to regard a ffin-nail as 
the deadest piece of ironmongery in the trade. But the wis- 
dom of our ancestors is in the simile ; and my unhallowed 
hands shall not disturb it, or the Country's done for. You 
will, therefore, permit me to repeat emphatically that Marley 
was as dead as a door-nail. 

Scrooge knew he was dead ? Of course he did. How 
could it be otherwise ? Scrooge and he were partners for I 
don't know how many years. Scrooge was his sole executor, 
his sole administrator, his sole assign, his sole residuary 
legatee, his sole friend, and sole mourner. And even Scrooge 
was not so dreadfully cut up by the sad event but that he 
was an excellent man of business on the very day of the 
funeral, and solemnized it with an undou jted bargain. 

The mention of Marley's funeral brings me back to the 
point I started from. There is no doubt that Marley was 



la 



8 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

dead. This must be distinctly understood, or nothing won- 
derful can come of the story I am going to relate. If we 
were not perfectly convinced that Hamlet's Father died before 
the play began, there would be nothing more remarkable in 
his takmg a stroll at night, in an easterly wind, upon his own 
ramparts, than there would be in any other middle-aged 
gentleman rashly turning out after dark in a breezy spot- 
say Samt Paul's Churchyard, for instance-literally to astonish 
his son s weak mind. 

Scrooge never painted out old Marley's name. There it 
stood, years afterwards, above the warehouse door— Scrooge 
and Marley. The firm was known as Scrooge and Marley 
bometimes people new to the business called Scrooge Scrooge 
and sometimes Marley, but he answered to both names. It 
was all the sa-ae to him. 

Oh ! but he was a tight-fisted hand at the grindstone, 
Scrooge !— a squeezing, wrenching, grasping, scraping, clutch- 
ing, covetous old sinner! Hard and sharp as flint, from 
Which no steel had ever struck out generous fire; secret and 
selt-contamed, and solitary as an oyster. The cold within 
him froze his old features, nipped his pointed nose, shrivelled 
his cheek stiffened his gait ; made his eyes red, his thin lips 
blue ; and spoke out shrewdly in his grating voice. A frosty 
rime was on his head, and on his eyebrows, and his wi^ 
Chin. He carried his own low temperature always about 
with him; he iced his office in the dog-days, and didn't 
thaw it one degree at Christmas. 

External heat and cold had little influence on Scrooge 
INo warmth could warm, nor wintry weather chill him. No 
wind that blew was bitterer than he, no falling snow was more 
mtent upon its purpose, no pelting rain less open to entreaty. 
Poul weather didn't know where to have him. The heaviest 
ram, and snow, and hail, and sleet could boast of the advan- 
tage over him in only one respect. They often. « came down " 
handsomely, and Scrooge never did. 

Nobody ever stopped him in the street to say, with glad- 
some looks, "My dear Scrooge, how are you? when will you 
come to see me?" No beggars implored him to bestow a 
tnfle, no children asked him what it was o'clock, no man or 
woman ever once in all his life inquired the way to such and 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 9 

such a place, of Scrooge. Even the blind men's dogs appeared 
to know him ; and when they saw him coming on, would tug 
their ovyners into doorways and up courts ; and then would 
wag their tails, as though they said, " No eye at all is better 
, than an evil eye, dark master ! " 

But what did Scrooge care? It was the very thing he 
liked. To edge his way along the crowded paths of life, 
warning all human sympathy to keep its distance, was what 
the knowing ones call " nuts " to Scrooge. 

Once upon a time— of all the good days in the year, on 
Christmas Eve— old Scrooge sat busy in his counting-house. 
It was cold, bleak, biting weather— foggy withal; and he 
could hear the people in the court outside go wheezing up 
anc down, beating their hands upon their breasts and stamp- 
ing their feet upon the pavement-stones to warm them. The 
city clocks had only just gone three ; but it was quite dark 
already— It had not been light all day— and candles were 
flaring m the windows of the neighbouring offices, like ruddy 
smears upon the palpable brown air. The fog came pouring 
in at every chink and keyhole, and was so dense without 
that, although the court was of the narrowest, the houses 
opposite were mere phantoms. To see the dingy cloud come 
drooping down, obscuring everything, one might have thought 
that Nature hved hard by, and was brewing on a large scale. 
The door of Scrooge's counting-house was open, that he 
might keep his eye upon his clerk, who, in a dismal little cell 
beyond— a sort of tank— was copying letters. Scrooge had a 
v-ery small fire, but the clerk's fire was so very much smaller 
that it loc^ked like one coal. But he couldn't replenish it, 
tor Scrooge kept the coal-box in his own room : and so surely 
as the clerk came in with the shovel, the master predicted 
that It would be necessary for them to part. Wherefore the 
clerk put on his white comforter, and tried to warm himself 
at the candle ; in which effort, not being a man of a strong 
imagination, he failed. 

"A merry Christmas, uncle! God save you!" cried a 
cheerful voice. It was the voice of Scrooge's nephew, who 
came upon him so quickly that this was the first intimation 
he had of his approach. 
" Bah 1 " said Scrooge ; " Humbug I " 



'O A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

and"frosMhi?n'ph:torScl"'* -P^ -'k-g in .he fog 
His face wJSy Ind fe''' '''S^ '"'""^ "" '" » «l°^ 
his breath smoked kg^n "^'^"'"^ ' ^" «y« sparkled, and 

have you. ot^^merfwha',''''"'^ ?"''""^i ^h"' right 
you're poor enough^ ^" '""'°" ''^^^ J-o" '° be merfyf 

ha^e^'j^T.o'KsSrwha^ "^P'r S"''^- "^^"a. righ. 
You're rich enough" '^^'°" ^"^ J'"" '° ^^ '""™«i' 

mom;mfair''sih"°.^^s STsr'^ °" '"^ ^p^ °f ">« 

bug!" ^'""> ana followed It up with" Hum- 

'■'vvh^i' "f ^'"^'•""de,- said .he nephew. 

such?:U';fTi'2'';s"^MV'^7r"=- """'™ ^ "^ in 

merry Christmas IWta^rhn*?!,'''^ Christmas ! Out upon 
for wing bills without ISy a tim™? '7°" but a time 
a year older, and no. an houT richer a Hmfftl T"?'" 
your books, and having everv item T„' ' Tk '"^'^'ancmg 

doeen of months presfntedle^'ragSn^ you r«K I™"';^ 
work my will " sairi Srr««„^ • j • **o^'"^^ you r If I could 

goes abLt wth^Merrv rf-l«*«^"'''''u>''''>' '^'°' «h° 
boiled with hs o^ nLn^ "^ ■°".'"' '■> ^ho"ld be 

hoUythroughtsSt!'"'^L"fhou"d-""^ "'* '' '^ °' 
.w"*'i^ •',S'^<'«^ 'he nephew. ' 
Nephew!" returned the uncle sternlv "lr»»^ n ■ . 

'"'^K:en"M""^' """^ '^' ™« keep itin mSie.'!^''" ^"""^"^ 
keeplt"'^ " • "P^'«^ Scrooge's nephew. " But you don't 

gold ^y"'^ Jr^^u ! Muc^'ood'itlfi' ^T^' "«-" 
"There am t/ok., Vu- - ^ ^ ^' ^^^ ^^^^ done you ! " 

goo ^bylhichTre '„"f^ pXed'fd ' "'^hlhav/derived 

nephew-" Christmalamon^Sst Z,7' ■•«"'"«d'he 

^iTfrt'i^eSsnS^-^^--^^^^^ 
ir«>yu>ing Mo:^gr?t^^£^-si"trriL^ig3 






I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 1 1 

time— a kind, forgiving, charitable, pleasant time- the nnl„ 
time I know of, in the long calendar^f the y^r%hen men 

and I say, God bless it ! " ^ ' ^ ^"^ ""^ ^ood ; 

. The clerk in the tank involuntarily applauded Becoming 
immediately sensible of the improprietv? he poked theX^ 
and extinguished the last frail spark for ever ^ ^'^' 

Let me hear another sound from vou " saiH <inr^»^ 
"and yomi keep your Christmas by lo^g yZt sl^t' 

hi nepher^-rwr/"' '"^^'''^ '""■ "« "^dS?, tu~o 

" nn„5 h. °"''" >''^" ''°" ' 8° '"'° Pariiament." 
morrow" '"^' ""'^'^ ^ome ! dine with us to- 

Scrooge said that he would see him— yes indeed h- rf.vi 

^7drL1nl!^"SL°^J^««^^^^^ 

!i wu "^i^^ ** " ^"^"^ Scrooge's nephew. " Why ? » 
Why did you get married?" said Scrooge. ^ 

** Because I fell in love." 

"Because you fell in love!" growled SrrnnaA oo ,v *u ^ 
were the only one thing in the w^^mte S^ h^S^' 
^[7t ^^"«^"^as, « Good afternoon ' » '^'*="'°"s than a 

h.r^r. ""^'^""f^fl ^"^ y°" "^^^'" ^^'"e to see me before that 
happened. Why give it as a reason for not coming now?" 
;; Good afternoon," said Scrooge. ^ 

cannorw^^rSdl"^ '°"'' ' "' "^^^'"^ °^ ^-^ ^F 
^''Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 
I am sorry wrth all my heart, to find you so resolute. 
We have never had any quarrel to which I have iSn Tmr^ 

keen mv ChH^f ' *^k '"'^ ^" '^^'^^^^ ^° Christmas? anTl?i 
mS, rcle ! " ^""'°"' '° '^' ^"^^ So, a mer^ Christ- 

•* Good afternoon ! " said Scrooge. 
And a happy New Year 1 " 



11 



" A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

"Good afternoon," said Scrooge. 

His nephew left the room without an angry word not- 
withstandmg He stopped at the outer door^o bestow t^e 
greetings of the season on the clerk, who, cold as he was wis 
waxmer than Scrooge ; for he returned them cordiaUy ' 

him "'u ^Tl^' ^^"u°^C' """^'■^^ ^""^^g^' ^^<' oJerheard 
him "My clerk, with fifteen shillings a week, and a wife 

Bed W ^' ^ ^"^ ^^°''' ^ ""^'"y Christmas. I'll ?etirrto 

nthTr'" ^""f '"^ '" !Su '"^ Scrooge's nephew out, had let two 
h.hnH^'^Pj^ '"• ^^^y ^^'^ P^^t^y gentlemen pleasant to 
behold, and now stood, with their hats off, in Sc/oSge's office 
They had books and papers in their hands, and bowed to him 
Scrooge and Marley's, I believe," said one of the gent^l 

W Mr r"^ '° \^^'\ " ^^^^ ^ ^he pleasure of addre^- 
ing Mr. Scrooge, or Mr. Marley ? " 

r Ji-^"* ^.^^^^^ ^^^" ^^^^ these seven years," Scrooge 
replied. « He died seven years ago, this very night." ^ 
We have no ..,oubt his liberality is well represented by 
c^edentSr^ ^"'''""" "^'^ '^' gentleman, presenting his 
It certainly was, for they had been two kindred spirits. 
At the ominous word "liberality," Scrooge frowned, and 
shook his head, and handed the credentials back. 

At this festive season of the year, Mr. Scrooge," said the 
fhilfhT' '^u^'V ",P""' "'' '' °^°^^ than u^ally desh- 

W Hp..-.^^ "^l^^^ T^^ '''"'^ ^"gh^ P^^^i^'O" for the poor 
and destitute, who suffer greatly at the present time. Many 

housands are in want of common necessaries ; hundreds of 

thousands are in want of common comforts, sir." 

^ Are there no prisons?" asked Scrooge. 

npn f!!?y °^ P"sons," said the gentleman, laying down the 
pen again. 

,u " ^?n -^^ ^"'°" workhouses ? " demanded Scrooge. " Are 
they still in operation?" ® 

thelX^^ ScX"' *' ^°°' I-" -« in fiJI vigour. 
" Both very busy, sir." 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. ft 

" *u-"^u L^ "^^ ^^'?'^' ^'■°'" "^^^^ yo" s^»«l at first, that some- 
thing had occurred to stop them in their useful course." said 
Scrooge. "I'm very glad to hear it." 

"Under the impression that they scarcely furnish Christian 
cheer of mmd or body to the multitude," returned the gentle- 
man, a fev of us are endeavouring to raise a fund to buy 
the Poor some meat and drink, and means of warmth. We 
choose this time because it is a time, of all others, when 
Want is keenly felt, and Abundance rejoices. What shall I 
put you down for ? " 

" Nothing ! " Scrooge replied. 

" You wish to be anonymous ?" 

"I wish to be left alone," said Scrooge. "Since you ask 
me what I wish, gentlemen, that is my answer. I don't make 
merry myself at Christmas, and I can't afford to make idle 
people merry I help to support the establishments I have 
mentioned— they cost enough— and those who are badly oflf 
must go there." ^ 

I! ??*?^ ^^"'^ ^° ^^^'■^' ^"^ "^any would rather die." 
If they would rather die," said Scrooge, « they had better 
do It, and decrease the surplus population. Besides-excuse 
me— I don't know that." 

II But you might know it," observed the gentleman. 
Its not my business," Scrooge returned "It's enough 
for a man to understand his own business, and not to inter- 
fere with other people's. Mine occupies me constantly 
Lrood afternoon, gentlemen." 

Seeing clearly that it would be useless to pursue their 
point, the gentlemen withdrew. Scrooge resumed his labours 
with an improved opinion of himself, and in a more facetious 
temper than was usual with him. 

Meanwhile the fog and darkness thickened so, that people 
ran about with flaring links, proffering their services to go 
Delore horses in carriages and conduct them on their way. 
Lhe ancient tower of a church, whose gruff old bell was 
always peeping slyly down at Scrooge out of a Gothic win- 
dow m the wall, became invisible, and struck the hours and 
quarters m the clouds, with tremulous vibrations afterwards, 
as If Its teeth were chattering in its frozen head up there. 
I he cold became intense. In the main street, at the comer 



I 
I 

u 

I 

9 



'^ A CHRISTMAS CAROL, 

and winking .hair ^es bX't^lbteTU'SJL '^h'e 

pass^ Poul erer™ and Lce^f ^J^ "-"dy as they 
joke-a glorious ma^m Sl.v? ? ^^'"^ * 'P'<^'"l'd 
sible to believe thMsThd^Ii^-- , *^ "«« «<> ™Pos- 
had anythingto do Th. li ^^"'^^^ -"^ "^'S^" a"d sale 

the mi^htrCsSn SoL^glv^Ze " *tif ^^^'^^^ 
and butlers to kp#»n r"h^;c.* ^ oraers to his fifty cooks 

should and ev^^^^ ^ ^^d Mayor's household 

shining on the Se W M^^^^ ^^-"^ ^.^ ^^^ ^"ed five 
thirsty in the streets srirJ^H^^''' ^'"^ ^""""^ ^"^ ^lood- 
irarrpL wV£ K" i ' -7^^ "P to-morrow's pudding in his 

fhe Se? ^'' ^'"" "^^^^ ""^ '^^ b^by ^"^ed out^o buy 

and'Skd bXTul°^°:5fdTL'°""« "°^' ^-^'^ 
dogs, stooped down at ScrSl»^. v u ^""^ "^ «!"*"«<' 1^^ 

" God bless you, merry gentleman 1 
■Hay nothmg you dismay ! " 

more congenial fro^t. ^ *^ *^' and even 

anilld"" With"S, n?" -,.1 *'"*'"8 "P *« counting-house 

and ^iitly^ldnSSedle fecr^oM'™"""'^' '"T •>'' "°°'> 
^..whJins.anS?,:!S^-<^™^^mtHe ^ 









I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. j. 

I wTfo"stonTJr"''"''" n^^ ^'"^^^^ "^"^ it's not fair. U 
mtVuZ f.f^'"^^°^" f^^^t. you'd think yourself iU-usei 

The clerk smiled faintly. 

Ihe derk observed that it was only once a year. 
unh F^' ^""^ f" P'='''''8 a man's pocket everv twentv 

Bej^r^'iTthe fa^L'r Sro^1n"gT" ""^'^ '"^ "'""^ <^^- 

ou^^^itht lS,'r''Sf. "S' '■" "°","' ^.'l Scrooge walked 
the derk w^h ,L i "^"^ l^f- <='°^"1 '" » twinkling, and 

m honour ot its being Christmas Eve, and then ran So^^^ 
Camden Town as hard as he could pelt, to pCa. bLdr^'^ 

t,v!^°°^^ ^^ ■?'" ■"^'^choly dinner in his usual melancholv 
.^^Tf'.K*"'' having read all the newspapers, and CuUed the 
H. °f *e evemng with his banker's book, , ent ho^e to b^ 

c^Xr'tnef TW """'' "^^ °"'^ i->onged"o h°s^ 

Cwng'^rof b^id ,^Tp\t°d"'ur if h^^ iv 

business i be, that one ?oul^UrceIy help fe„cyWh mu « 

m}"- Jt was old enough now, and dreary enouch for nn. 
body hv a :n it but Scrooge, the other roomXIng auS 
out as offices. The yard was so dark that even s7rooee who 

fo« Ind S'^T' "'^k''"" '"J'ZP' ""•> hi' hand? ' T^e 
log and frost so hung about the black old eatewav of the 

house, that It seemed as if the Genius of th?^ vCher l^t 
m mournful meditation on the threshold. 

Now It IS a fact that there was nothing at all Dartiri,I,r 
about he knocker on the door, except thatVti vS^^" 

duH^Z^l"] "^'. Sc'-°°g? had seen it night and IS 
auring his whole residence n that olacp • ^]^ tKof « » 

M as little of what is caUed f^^afc hitlsXlTS 



16 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL 



the City of London, even including— which is a bold word^ 
the corpcjration, aldermen, and livery. Let it also be borne 
in mind that Scrooge had not bestowed one thought on 
Marley, since his last mention of his seven-years' dead part- 
ner that afternoon. And then let any man explain to mc, 
if he can, how it happened that Scrooge, having his key in 
the lock of the door, saw ir the knocker, without its under- 
going any intermediate process of change, not a knocker, 
but Marley's face. 

Marley's face. It was not in impenetrable shadow as the 
other objects in the yard were, but had a dismal light about 
it, like a bad lobster in a dark cellar. It was not angry or 
ferocious, but looked at Scrooge as Marley used to look - 
with ghostly spectacles turned up upon its ghostly foreheaJ. 
The hai'- was curiously stirred, as if by breath or hot-air; 
and though the eyes were wide open, they were perfectly 
motionless. That, and its livid colour, made it horrible; 
but its horror seemed to be in spite of the face, and beyond 
its control, rather than a part of its own expression. 

As Scrooge looked fixedly at this phenomenon, it was a 
knocker again. 

To say that he was not startled, or that his blood was not 
conscious of a terrible sensation to which it had been a stran- 
ger from infancy, would be untrue. But he put his hand 
upon the key he had relinquished, turned it sturdily, walked 
in, and lighted his candle. 

He did pause, with a moment's irresolution, before he shut 
the door ; and he did look cautiously behind it first, as if he 
half-expected to be terrified with the sight of Mariey's pigtail 
sticking out into the hall. But there was nothing on the 
back of the door, except the screws and nuts that held the 
knocker on ; so he said, " Pooh, pooh ! " and closed it with 
a bang. 

The sound resounded through the house like thunder. 
Every room above, and every cask in the wine-merchant's 
cell-irs below, appeared to have a separate peal of echoes of 
its own. Scrooge was not a man to be frightened by echoes. 
He fastened the door, and walked across the hall, and up 
the stairs — slowly too, trimming his candle as he went 

You may talk vaguely about driving a coach-and-six up a 



I 

1 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. m 

f good c^d flight of stairs, or through a bad young Act of Par 
_ament ; but I mean to say you might have got a hearse up 

^ o^^lT'' ir*^ !f^!" 'J broadwise, with Oie splinter-bJl 
Inn/^ ' ^ ""^^u^""^ ^^^ ^°°'' ^°^^^d« t»^e balustrades-and 

i to ,^i ^'^;- 7^"'^ r P^^"^>' °^ ^'d^h f«r that, and room 
1 to spare which is perhaps the reason why Scrooge thougM 
he aw a locomotive hearse going on before him in the gS 
Half a dozen gas- lamps out of the street wouldn't have lighted 

£Va ^o^^^s d^ " "^^^ ^"^^^^ ^^- " - P-V 

w cheap, and Scrooge liked it. But before he shut his heavy 
dcK)r he wa ked through his rooms to see that all was right 
He^ had just enough recollection of the face to desire to do 

Sitting-room, bedroom, lumber room- Ul as they should 

!^;il fi°^^ T^^' '^^ ^^^^ ^'^»^°^y ""der the sofa: a 
rmall fire in the grate; spoon and ba.cin ready; and the 

u^n T'Tk ""^JTl ^^^""^^ ^^ ^ ^«ld i" his head) 
K . ^ ^^- . ^^'"^^ ""^^^ t^^^ bed ; nobody in the 
closet; nobody m his dressing-gown, which was hanging up 

usual^ll^^'T ^"'^"^^.^g^r^ th. wall. Lumber-r?om £ 
usual-old fire-guard, old shoes, two fish-baskets, washing- 
stand on three legs, and a poker. ^ , 

Hn^Kill ^v'fH^-' b^,^l°s^d h's <io^^. and locked himself in; 
double-locked himself in, which was not his custom. Thus 
secured against surprise, he took off his cravat, put on his 

srsir tr^kir^^ef '' "'^^^-^' -^ - ^«^" 

niri!t''lT^ "^^'^ ur ^i^ i"^eed-nothing on such a bitter 
hpfnrl K ^^ ""^^'^^^ *° '^^ *^^°^ t^ ^t' ^"d brood over it, 
before he cou d extract the least sensation of warmth from 
such a handful of fuel. The fireplace was an old on^ bum 

uuabr D^r".'h n''''^^"- ^°"f ^^°' .^^ P^^^^ ^" r°""d with 
quaint Dutch tiles, designed to illustrate the Scriptures 

I here were Cains and Abels, Pharaoh's daughters. Queens 
cbuds like "fit °^^^f"ge/s descending through the air on 
nuniL ^/"^'^^''^i^' Abrahams, Belshazzars, Apostles 
attiLf w i° '^ "^ butter-boats, hundreds of figu^s, to 
attract his thoughts; and yet that fece of Marley, seven 



u 

i 



i8 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



years dead, came like the ancient Prophet's rod, and swal- 
lowed up the whole. If each smooth tile h..d been a blank 
at first, with power to shape some picture on its surface from 
the disjointed fragments of his thoughts, there would have 
been a copy of old Marley's head on every one. 

" Humbug ! " said Scrooge, and walked across the room. 

After several turns, he sat down again. As he threw his 
head back in the chair, his glance happened to rest upon a 
bell, a disused bell, that hung in the room, and communi- 
cated for some purpose now forgotten with a chamber in the 
highest story of the building. It was with great astonishment, 
and with a strange, inexplicable dreed, that, as he looked, he 
saw this bell begin to swing. It swung so softly in the outset 
that it scarcely made a sound ; but soon it rang out loudly, 
and so did every bell in the house. 

This might have lasted half a minute, or a minute, but 
it seemed an hour. The bells ceased as they had begun, 
together. They were succeeded by a clanking noise, deep 
down below, as if some person were dragging a heavy chain 
over the casks in the wine-merchant's cellar. Scrooge then 
remembered to have heard that ghosts in haunted houses 
were describrd as dragging chains. 

The cellar-door flew open with a booming sound, and then 
he heard the noise much louder, on the floors below ; then 
coming up the stairs; then coming straight towards his 
door. 

" It's humbug still ! " said Scrooge. " I won't believe it." 

His colour changed though, when, without a pause, it 
came on through the heavy door, and passed into the room 
before his eyes. Upon its coming in, the dying flame leaped 
up, as though it cried, " I know him ! Marley's Ghost ! " and 
fell again. 

The same face — the very same. Marley in his pig-tail, 
usual waistcoat, tights, and boots ; the tassels on the latter 
bristling, like his pigtail, and his coat-skirts, and the hair 
upon his head. The chain he drew was clasped about his 
middle. It was long, and wound about him like a tail ; and 
it was made (for Scrooge observed it closely) of cash-boxes, 
keys, padlocks, ledgers, deeds, and heavy purses wrought in 
steeL His body was transparent, so that Scrooge, observing 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. I9 

him, and looking through his waistcoat, could see the two 
buttons on his coat behind. ° 

Scrooge had often heard it said that Marley had no brwels. 
but he had never beheved it until now. ^ 

No, nor did he believe it even now. 'I'houch he looked the 

-though lie felt the chilling influe -. of its death-cold eves 
and niarked the very texture of the folded kerch'ef l>^m;d 
about us head and chin, whica wrapper he had not ob m'ed 

"kVv nr. '' " •"7^,^"'°-' -^ f-g»^t against his senses 
»Uh.ri said Scrooge, caustic and cold as ever, 

u hat do you want with me ? " 

"Much ! "-Marley's voice, no doubt about it 

»V ho are you ? " 
" Ask me who I was." 

"Who Tver, you then?" said acrooge, raising his voice 
You re parlicu hr-fcr a shade." He was going to say 'V^ 
a shade ; but substituted this, as more appropriatt. ^ 
^^ in life I was your partner, Jacob Marley." 

" I can." 

" Do it then." 

. aZ"^^^ ^}^^ ^^"^ "1"' '^'°"' ^^^^"^^ he <^'dn't know whether 
a ghort so transparent might find himself in a condition to 

sble,it might involve the necessity of an embarrassing ex- 
planation. But the ghost sat down on the opposUe s"de of 
the fireplace, as 11 he were quite used to it. 

.«T 7 1°!?'' ^^^"^"^^ '" '"'-''" observed the Ghost. 
I don't," said Scrooge. 

Ih,7^r^^' evidence would you have of my reality, beyond 
hat of your senses ? " / /> ^y^n^A 

" I don't know," said Scrooge. 

" Why do you doubt your senses ? " 
^/' Because," said Scrooge, "a little thing affects them A 
iiight disorder of the stomach makes them cheats. You may 
)e an undigested bit of beef, a blot of mus^^H. a crumb of 

f/rlvv^thrrfn^' "^^ "k ""^e^d^"^ Pot^ ' here's more 
« gravy than of grave about you, whatever . are i " 



I 



so A CHRISTMAS CAROU 

Scrooge was not much in the habit of cracking jokes ; nor 
did he feel, in his heart, by any means waggish then. The 
truth is, that he tried to be smart, as a means of distracting 
his own attention, and keeping down his terror; for the 
spectre's voice disturbed the very marrow in his bones. 

To sit staring at those fixed, glazed eyes, in silence for a 
moment, would play, S ooge felt, tiie very deuce with him. 
There was something jry awful, too, in the spectre's being 
provided with an infernal atmosphere of its own. Scrooge 
could not feci it himself; but this was clearly the case, for 
though the Ghost sat perfectly moiionless, its hair, and skirts, 
and tassels were still agitated as by the hot vapour from an 
oven. 

" You see this toothpick ? ' said Scrooge, returning quickly 
1 ^ the charge, for the reason just assigned, and wishing, 
I. i,4h it were only for a second, to divert the vision's stony 
gaze .7om himself. 

" I do," replied the Ghost. 

" You are not looking at it," said Scrooge. 

" But I see it," said the Ghost, " notwithstanding." 

" Well I " returned Scrooge, " I have but to swallow this, and 
be for the rest of my days persecuted by a legion of goblins, 
all of my own creation. Humbug, I tell vou ; humbug ! " 

i^. this the spirit raised a frightful cry, and shook its chain 
with such a dismal and appalling noise, that Scrooge held on 
tight to his chair to save himself from falling in a swoon. 
But ho V much greater was his horror, wher the phantom 
taking off the bandage round its head, as if it were too warm 
to wear indoors, its lower jaw dropped down upon its breast ! 

Scrooge fell upon his knees, and clasp -d his hands before 
his face. 

"Mercy!" he said. "Dreadful apparition, why do you 
trouble i le?" 

" Man of the worldly mind ! " replied the Ghost, " do you 
believe in me or not ? " 

"I do," said Scrooge. "I must. But why do spirits 
walk the earth, and why do they come to me ■* " 

" It is required of every man," the Ghost returned, " that 
the spirit within him should walk abroad among his fellow- 
men, and travel far and wide; and if that spirit goes not 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 2t 

wriTaslLrytanT' ^ ^^' ^'^^ ^'^^ '^^ ^^^^"' -^ 
why."°" "*" ^^«ered," said Scrooge, trembling. "Tell me 

m.7. TtT ?1''^?'? ^ ^°'8^^ '" ^'^^" ^epl'^'d the Ghost "I 
made it hnk by hnk, and yard by yard I girded it on of 
my own free w.ll. and of my own free will I tore it U kl 
pattern strange to ^-ow/" ' "" 

Scrooge trembled more and more. 

o„H 1 '' Tu"^r r"" ^"""^ P^^^^<^ the Ghost "the weieht 
and length of the strong coil you bear yourself? It w^ full 

r^TL'"^ r ^^^^ ^ ^^'^' ^^^^" Christmas Eves i^o ySu 
have laboured on .t smce. It is a ponderous chain I » 

Scrooge glanced about him on the floor, in the expectation 
of fmdmg himself surrounded by some Hfty or sixty^tho^ 
of iron cable ; but he could see nothing. ^ 

Jacob,' he said imploringly— " old Jacob Marlev t^ll 
me more. Speak comfort to m^ Jacob." " ^' '^" 

I have none to give," the Ghost replied. "It comes 
from other regions. Ebenezer Scrooge, and is conveyed by 
other ministers, to other kinds of men. Nor can I tell vou 
what I would A very little more is all permitted to mi^ 
cannot rest. I cannot stay. I cannot lii^er anywhf Mv 
spirit never walked beyond our countin^ous^Crk me^^ 

monel^hL'P-"' I"?' '^^^^ ^^^^"^ '^^ "^^^°^^ J'™^^ of our 
money-changmg hole; and weary journeys lie before me!" 

f„i . f i!- il* with Scrooge, whenever he l)ecame thought- 
fiU, o put his hands m his breeches pockets. Pondering on 
what the Ghost had said, he did so now, but without lling 
up his eyes, or gettmg ofif his knees. ^ 

nJ/^'i"'"^' have been very slow about it Jacob." Scrooge 

"Slow ! " the Ghost repeated 



I 



22 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



"The whole time," said the Ghost. "No rest, no peace. 
Ince— .ant torture of remorse." 

" You travel fast ? " said Scrooge. 

"On the wings of the wind," replied the Ghost. 

" You might have got over a great quantity of ground in 
seven years," said Scrooge. 

The Ghost, on hearing this, set up another cry, and clanked 
its chain so hideously in the dead silence of the night, that 
the Ward would have been justified in indicting it for a 
nuisance. 

" Oh ! captive, bound, and double-ironed," cried the phan- 
tom, " not to know that ages of incessant labour by immortal 
creatures for this earth must pass into eternity before the 
good of which it is susceptible is all developed. Not to 
know that any Christian spirit, working kindly in its little 
sphere, whatever it may be, will find its mortal life too short 
for its vast means of usefulness. Not to know that no space 
of regret can make amends for one life's opportunities mis- 
used ! Yet such was I ! Oh ! such was I ! " 

"But you were always a good man of business, Jacob," 
faltered Scrooge, who now began to apply this to himself. 

"Business!" cried the Ghost, wringing its hands again. 
" Mankind was my business. The common welfare was my 
business ; charity, mercy, forbearance, and benevolence were, 
all, my business. The dealings of my trade were but a drop 
of water in the comprehensive ocean of my business ! " 

It held up its chain at arm's-length, as if that were the 
cause of all its unavailing grief, and flung it heavily upon the 
ground again. 

" At this time of the rolling year," the spectre said, " I 
suffer most Why did I walk through crowds of fellow-beings 
with my eyes turned down, and never raise them to that 
blessed Star which led the Wise Men to a poor abode? 
Were there no poor homes to which its light would have 
conducted tneV 

Scrooge was very much dismayed to hear the spectre going 
on at this rate, and began to quake exceedingly. 

" Hear me ! " cried the Ghost. " My time is nearly gone." 

"I will," said Scrooge. "But don't be hard upon me J 
Don't be flowery, Jacob ! Pray ! " 



« ."-a.' -sr- »"■--"■ 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 23 

"How it is that I appear before you in a shape that you 
can see, I may not tell. 1 have sat invisible beside you 
many and many a day." ^ 

It was not an agreeable idea. Scrooge shivered, and wiped 
the perspiration from his brow. ^ 

^^ " That is no light part of my penance," pursued the Ghost. 
1 am here to-night to warn you that you have yet a chance 
and hope of escaping my fate. A chance and hope of my 
procuring, Ebenezer." ^ ^ 

"Thlnk'eeT'' ^^"'^^' ^ ^"""^ ^""""^ '^ "'"'" "^'^ Scrooge. 

; SpiriS*" "^'^ ^^ haunted," resumed the Ghost, "by Three 

^ ha^don?'^ countenance fell almost as low as the Ghost's 

"Is that the chance and hope you mentioned, Jacob?" he 
: demanded, in a faltering voice . j "ur ne 

i "It is." 

i " JirJ ^^'"^ ^'^ '■^*^^'" "o^'" said Scrooge. 

; Without their visits," said the Ghost, "you cannot hone 

1 hil^'dtc'roogi'''' ''" '" '' °"^^' ^"' '^^^ ^^ °^^^' J-°b ? " 

ItkI^k^T' ^^^ 'f """^ °" *^^ "^^* "'ght at the same hour. 

I Ihe third upon the next night when the last stroke of Twe've 

has ceased to vibrate. Look to see me no more ; and look 

jb^we^us!"' ''''" ' ^°" remember what has passed 

frnm^f^ '^^k!^ ^'"^ f^f ^ ^O'-ds, the spectre took its wrapper 
from the table and bound it round its head, as before 
Scrooge knew this by the smart sound its teeth made when 
he jaws were brought together by the bandage. He ventured 
to raise his eyes again, and found his supernatural visitor con 
rontmg him m an erect attitude, with its chain wound ove- 
and about its arm. 

The apparition walked backward from him ; and at every 

step ,t took, the window raised itself a little, so that when 

he spectre reached it, it was wide open. It beckoned Scrooge 

to approach, which he did When \hey were within two ^^ 



I 



24 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Of each other, Marley's Ghost held up its hand, warning him 

to come no nearer. Scrooge stopped. 

Not so much in obedience, as in surprise and fear ; for on 
the raismg of the hand, he became sensible of confuse d 
noises m the air— incoherent sounds of lamentation and 
regret, wailings inexpressibly sorrowful and self-accusatory 
The spectre, after listening for a moment, joined in the 
mournful dirge, and floated out upon the bleak, dark nipht 

Scrooge followed to the window, desperate in his curiosity. 
He looked out. ^ 

The air was filled with phantoms, wandering hither and 
thitr.er in restless haste, and moaning as they went. Every 
one of them wore chains like Marley's Ghost; some few 
(tney might be guilty governments) were linked together- 
none were free. Many had been personally known to 
Scrooge m their lives. He had been quite familiar with one 
old ghost, in a white waistcoat, with a monstrous iron safe 
attached to its ankle, who cried piteously at being unable to 
assist a wretched woman with an infant, whom it saw be^ow 
upon a door-step. The misery with them all was, clearly! 
that they sought to interfere, for good, in human matters, and 
had lost the power for ever. 

Whether these creatures faded into mist, or mist enshrouded 
theni, he could not tell. But they and their spirit voices 
faded together, and the night became as it had been when 
he walked home. 

Scrooge closed the window, and examined the door by 
which the Ghost had entered. It was double-locked, as he 
had locked It with his own hands, and the bolts were un- 
disturbed He tried to say " Humbug ! " but stopped at the 
first syllable, /nd being, from the emotion he had under- 
f-u7 Jl5^ /^^"gues of the day, or his glimpse of the 
Invisible World, or the dull conversation of the Ghost or 
the lateness of the hour, much in need of repose, went 
straight to bed, without undressing, and fell asleep upon the 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 
STAVE TWO. 

THE FIRST OF THE THREE SPIRITS. 



«5 



Z^'n^l M '°°^^ f ''°^'' '^ "^^ «o ^^^k that, looking out of bed 

of a neighbouring church strnrt fL ?f ' " *^*^ ^^^''"^^ 

listened for the hour. ^^ ^°"' ^"^"^""^ ^o he 

To his great astonishment the heaw bell w^nf r,r. r.^ • 

"Why, it isn't possible," said Scrooge "thaf T o.« u 

j ;:.hree days aftt?s:;°h'?'^f .hL'Firof^^lSnS'ltX 
i.o?„um by '" ^'"'^ ''•'""'y '' 'here were no day, 

i =>>oughtf.%TSV„?otr'«S'o"' "■T"' f" "^ "'°"«ht, and 
iof it Thr^-., u u ""'f. °'""' '^"^1 ™"ld make nothine 
i in/'.h J "T h^' 'h°"Sht, the more perplexed he was • 

u^nt. Marieys Ghost bothered him exceedingly. Every 






r 
I 

i 

i 1 



26 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



time he resolved within himself, after mature inquiry, that it 
was all a dream, his mind flew back again, like a strong 
spring released, to its first position, and presented the same 
problem to be worked all through, "Was it a dream or 
not?" 

Scrooge lay in this state until the chimes had gone three 
quarters more, when he remembered, on a sudden, that the 
Ghost had warned him of a visitation when the bell tolled 
One. He resolved to lie awake until the hour was past ; and, 
considering that he could no more go to sleep than go to 
Heaven, this was perhaps the wisest resolution in his power. 

The quarter was so long, that he was more than once con- 
vinced he must have sunk into a doze unconsciously, and 
missed the clock. At length it broke upon his listening ear. 

"Ding, dongi" ^ 

"A quarter past," said Scrooge, counting. 

"Ding, dong!" 

" Half past ! " said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

"A quarter to it," said Scrooge. 

" Ding, dong ! " 

"The hour itself," said Scrooge triumphantly, "and 
nothing else ! " 

He spoke before the hour bell sounded, which it now did 
with a deep, dull, hollow, melancholy One. Light flashed 
up in the room upon the instant, and the curtains of his bed 
Were drawn. 

The curtains of his bed were drawn aside, I tell you, by a 
hand. Not the curtains at his feet, no- the curtains at his 
back, but those to which his face was addressed. The 
nirtains of his bed were drawn aside ; and Scrooge, starting 
-jp into a half-recumbent attitude, found himself face to face 
ivith the unearthly visitor who drew them — as close to it as 
I am now to you, and I am standing in the spirit at your 
elbow. 

It was a strange figure— like a child; yet not so like a 
child as like an old man, viewed through some supernatural 
medium, which gave him the appearance of having receded 
from the view, and being diminis' ad to a child's proportions. 
Its hair, which hung about its neck and down its back, was 



I A CHRISTMAS CAROL. S^ 

7^^^f^ f !J*^ Tii,^""^ y*^' ^^"^ ^^^^ -"^^^ "°t a wrinWe in it. 

I and he tenderest bloom was on the skin. The arms were 

very long and muscular; the hands the same, as if its hold 

rtellr^^T"""" "T^u' ^'' ^"Ss and feet, most deli- 
cately formed, were, like those upper members, bare. It 
» wore a tunic of the purest white; and round its waist wa' 
bound a lustrous belt, the sheen of which was beautiful. It 
held a branch of fresh green holly in its hand; and, in 

I tZ^^H "^"^'•^^'^t'^" f that wintry emblem, had' its dress 

^ t Z th'V f '"T^' ^°^''''; .^"' '^^ «t^^"gest thing about 

I I was that from the crown of its head there sprung I bright 
clear jet of light, by which all this was visible; and whfch 

:"' It i^fn ^^\^T"" °^ ''' "^•"^' '" ^'' d""^^ "^^"^ents. 
a great extinguisher for a cap, which it now held under 
lis arm. 

^ ,n.^?"i-^''' *^°"^^' ''■^^" ^"°°g^ ^°o^ed at it with increas- 
mg steadiness, was no^ its strangest quality. For as its belt 

Th iw ^- "kY^^ "• ^' ^" °"^ P^'"' ^"^ "°^ i" another, 
and what was light one instant at another time was dark, so 

he figure itself fluctuated in its distinctness, being noi a 

thing with one arm, now with one leg, now with twenty legs 

ihnJ/ ^f\-uT 'r'^°"' ^ ^^^^' "°^ a head without a 
I body : of which dissolving parts, no outline would be visible 
: m the dense gloom wherein they melted away. And in the 

:^1^. '' '^^'' '' "°"^^ ^' '''''' agaiLdistinct Ind 

"lam!" 

.fl^^ 7k '-^ ""^ ?°^* ^""^ gentle-singularly low, as if. in- 
|Stead of being so close beside him, it were at a distance. 

« T ' t" ^""^^^ ^^^ y^" '' " Scrooge demanded. 
j 1 am the Ghost of Christmas Past." 

^statu^"^ ^^^^'' ^"'^"''■^'^ Scrooge, observant of its dwarfish 
I "No. Your past." 

I Perhaps Scrooge could not have told anybody why, if any. 
jbody could have asked him ; but he had a special desire to 

« wl^P!»^ '",^!^ ^-^^P' ^"^ ^^gged h' -• to be covered. 
What ! f umed the Coost, "would you so soon put 












^^ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

out with worldly hands, the light 1 give? Is ft not enough 

that you are one of those whose passions made this cap, and 

my br?w r'"""^ ' ''"'"' °^ ^''^'' '^ ^"^ '' ^^^V" 

Scrooge reverently disclaimed all intention to offend, or 
any knowledge of havmg wilfully " bonneted " the Spiri at 
any period of his ife. He then made bold to inquire what 
business brought him there. ^ 

" Your welfare 1 " said the Ghost. 

h.frf '.2- ^b- ^^P^^^^^d .h»"^self much obliged, but could not 
help thinking that a night of unbroken rest would have been 
more conducive to that end. The Spirit must have heard 
him thinking, for it said immediately,-. 
" Your reclamation, then. Take heed ' " 

gentTbyX'in,!'™"" '""' " " '^'^' "«^ ''^^^ "^ 

" Rise I and walk with me ! " 

It would have been in vain for Scrooge to plead that the 
w ather and the hour were not adapted to pedestrian pur- 
poses ; that bed was warm, and the thermometer a long way 
below freezing; that he was clad but lightly in his slippers, 
dressing-gown, and nightcap; and that he had a cold upon 
him at tha. time. The grasp, though gentle as a woman's 

S Zf^^T '° ^/ 'T''^^: ^^"^ ^°^^' b"^ fi"'^'"g that the 
Sn t°^"^ the window, clasped its robe in suppli- 

fall""^ ^^ ^ mortal," Scrooge remonstrated, "and liable to 

'/Bear but a touch of my hand //lere," said the Spirit 

tEhis r°" ' "^"^ ^""^ '^^" ^^ "P^^^"^ ^" "^°^^ 

As the words were spoken, they passed through the wall, 
and stood upon an open country road, with fields on eithe^ 
hand. The city had entirely vanished. Not a vestige of it 
was to be seen. The darkness and the mist had vanished 

the round ^^ ^^^ ^ ^'^^'*' ^^^^' ''''"^^' *^^^' ^'^ ^"^"^ "P""" 

.Ji^°''^ x^T''f''i\^'^ ^^'■^^g^' ^^^sP^"g his hands to. 
gether, as he looked about him. " I was bred in this place. 
I was a boy here I " ^ 



f A CHRISTMAS CAAOL. 2Q 

The Spirit gazed upon him mildly. Its gentle touch 
though ,t had been light and instantaneous anDeared .Si 
I present to the old man's sense of feeling He l£ !.l ■ 
:of a thousand odours floating in tl;;:^^- eaSfc^cS^^^S 

l^ng, bSoUenr^^^^' ^"^ '^^^ -' ^°^«' -^ -s 

tha'; u^on yLi^he?k>" "'' ^'^ ^^°^^ "^"^ ^^^^ - 
Scrooge muttered with an unusual catching in his voice 

ItVe^hJ^ouir^^^^ ^"^ ^^^^^^ '^- Ghos? to le:d°h?S 
"You recollect the way?" inquired the Spirit. 

walkltS'Sd.'' ''''^' '"^°^^ ^'^^ ^^--^- "I -ulcl 

the'chosf '« Urus'g?r ? ' '''' ^° "^^"^ y^^^^ ^ " °b--d 

They walked along the road— Scrooge recognizintr everv 

gate and post, and tree-until a little market ^ownTlpea^^^^^ 

Som" ct"^"'"' ^^^^ ^^' ^"^^^ ^^ church, and windKver 
Some shaggy pomes now were seen trotting towardJ [hem 
^mh boys upon their backs, who called to o?her boys ,^ 
countrj' g,gs and carts driven by farmers. All Sese bo " 
^werem great spirits, and shoutil to each otherTumil Se 

saidThe Ghl'f ^""U^u^^T' ^^ *^^ *^'"g« that have been," 
said the Ghost. They have no consciousness of us." 

Ihe jocund travellers came on; and as they came Scrooge 

beyond all bounds to see them? Why did his cold eve 

he niV"- u^^^^f"'"' ^^^P "P ^' they went pit? Why w^ 
h filled with gladness when he heard them give each othS 
Merry Chnstmas, as they parted at cross-roads anTbyways 
for their several homes ? What was merry Christr^I^To 
-rZit^lnl^r-^^^^^^^--^' WSt^ood'Sd" 
\nvJ^''' umK^"^^ '^ "°t quite deserted," said the Ghost "A 

Scrooge said he knew it. And he sobbed 

They left the highroad by a well-remembered lane, and 



i 



30 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



soon approached a mansion of dull red brick, with a little 
weathercock-surmounted cupola on the roof, and a bell 
hanging in it It was a large house, but one of broken 
fortunes ; for the spacious offices were little used, their walls 
were damp and mossy, their windows broken, and their 
gates decayed. Fowls clucked and strutted in the stables, 
and the coach-houses and sheds were overrun with grass. 
Nor was it more retentive of its ancient state within ; for 
entering the dreary hall, and glancing through the open 
doors of many rooms, they found them poorly furnished, 
cold, and vast. There was an earthy savour in the air, a 
chilly bareness in the place, which associated itself somehow 
with too much getting up by candle-light, and not too much 
to eat. 

They went, the Ghost and Scrooge, across the hall, to a 
door at the back of the house. It opened before them, and 
disclosed a long, bare, melancholy room, made barer still by 
lines of plain deal forms and desks. At one of these a 
lonely boy was reading near a feeble fire ; and Scrooge sat 
down upon a form, and wept to see his poor forgotten self 
as he had used to be. 

Not a latent echo in the house, not a squ ^ak and scuffle ai 
from the mice behind the panelling, not a drip from the- " 
half-thawed waterspout in the dull yard behind, not a sigh 
among the leafless boughs of one despondent poplar, not the 
idle swinging of an empty store-house door, no, not a clicking ! si 
in the fire, but fell upon the heart of Scrooge with softening' lil 
influence, and gave a freer passage to his tears. 

The Spirit touched him on the arm, and pointed to his 
younger self, intent upon his reading. Suddenly a man in 
foreign garments, wonderfully real and distinct to look at 
stood outside the window, with an axe stuck in his belt, and 
leading an ass laden with wood by the bridle. 

"Why, it's Ali Baba!" Scrooge exclaimed in ecstasy. 
' It's dear old honest Ali Baba ! Yes, yes, I know ! One 
Christmas time, when yonder solitary child was left here al! 
alone, he did come, for the first time, just like that. Poor 
boy ! And Valentine," said Scrooge, "and '^is wild brother, 
Orson J there they go! And what's his nai. who was putispj 
down in his drawers, asleep, at the Gate of Damascus ? don't I ful 



as 

ro 

sh 
of 
ho 
yo 
thi 
wh 



little 
bell 
)ken 

rails 
heir 
Dies, 
rass. 
for 



I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROU tl 

ou see him? And the Sultan's Groom turned upsidenlown 

'm I^of" ; '^wt '^^'^ -"P^" ^'^ ^'^^ •' Serve him rigM 
m glad of It What hns n^co UaA a- ♦^ i • . . °. 



pen 
led, 
ir, a 
tiow 
uch 

o a 
and 

byi 
e a 

sat 
self 

iffle 
the- 

light 
the I 
ing- 

his 

in 

at 

md 

isy. 
)ne 
a'! 
3or 
ler, 

3Ut 

in't 



T'r« ,rio^ «r •; iiM L . *^ '* "*^"" ' serve nim right. 
PrTnSss?° ''"^'' ^^^ '^^ '° ^^ "^'^^ *°^« 

ratT,r/n^'c^°°^K-^'^^'^'"S ^^ *^« eamestness of his 
nature on such subjects, m a most extraordinary voice be- 
iween laughmg and crymg, and to see his heightened and 
excited face, would have been a surprise to his business 
friends m the citv, indeed. ^^u^mcbs 

" There's the Parrot ! » cried Scrooge. « Green bodv and 
yellow tail, with a thing like a lettuce growing ou" ofTe top 
o his head; there he is I Poor Robin Crusoe, he called 

' P^nrp^oK^'^r ""^ ^°T ^^i"" ^^^^' ^"'"g round the island. 

Poor Robm Crusoe, where have you been, Robin Crusoe?' 

The man thought he was dreaming, but he wasn't. It was 

,7^ .^ /J ;•?;?" ^"'i'^: ^^^'"^ g°^^ F"'day' running for his 
life to the little treek I Halloa! Hoop I Halloo !» 
I Then, with a rapidity of transition very foreign to his usual 
character, he said, m pity for his former self, "Poor boyT» 
and cried again. ^ 

«nH ^i^b^" Scrooge muttered, putting his hand in his pocket 

^but^.ri.t^"' ^'?>' ^^'^' ^"^^"S ^''^ ^y^' ^i^h his cufr-I 
out it s too late now." 

" What is the matter ? " asked the Spirit 

' sin^W ^l?^"-f''^ ^'T^ ""°^^'"g- There was a boy 
singing a Christmas Carol at my door last night I should 
like to have given him something— that's all " 

as k did^I'n'^r^'^ thoughtfully, and waved its hand, saying 
as it did so. Let us see another Christmas I " ' ^ ^ 

rJTu^^'^ ^"'"'v'" .'^K S^^^ ^^'Ser at the words, and the 
sZnk Th'r-V'"^" darker and more dirty. The panels 
shriink, the windows cracked, fragments of plaster fell out 
of the ceiling, and the naked laths were shown instead : but 
.n^A th^ was brought about, Scrooge knew no more than 
wL K A u °"'y ^T"" *^^^ '^ ^^ ^"'te correct ; that every. 
whpL^?K. ST^K^^ 'VJ^^^ ^^^'^ ^^ ^^s, alone again, 
Hp^ ^ "l^^"" ^^' ^^^ ^°"« ^^"^^ ^or the jolly holidays 
snairfn^ ""l '^"^'^''1^ T^^T' ^"' ^^^^^"g "P ^d down de- 
uUnL J?-'^f ^S^'Y ^'}^^ ^^«^*' ^"d with a mourn, 
tul shaking of his head, glanced anxiously towards the door. 









S» A CHRIS'* .AS C AROU 

It opened, and a little girl, much younger than the boy, 
came darting in, and putting her arms about his neck, and 
often kissing him, addressed him as her "dear, dear 
brother." 

" I have come to bring you home, dear brother ! " said the 
child, clapping her tiny hands, and bending dovn to laugh. 
" To bring you home, home, home 1 " 

" Home, little Fan ? " returned the boy. 

" Yes I " said the child, brimful of glee. " Home, for good 
and all. Home, for ever and e^er. Father is so much 
kinder than he used to be that homes like Heaven! He 
spoke so gently to me one dear night when I was going to 
bed, that I was not afraid to ask him once more if you 
might come home ; and he said. Yes, you should ; and sent 
me in a coach to bring you. And you're to be a nan ! " 
said the child, opening her eyes, "and are never to come 
back here ; but first, we're to be together all the Christmas 
long, a- 'i have the merriest time in all the world." 

" Yoi are quite a woman, little Fan 1 " exclaimed the boy. 

She clapped her hands and laughed, and tried to touch 
his head j but being too little, laughed again, and stood on 
tiptoe to embrace him. Then she began to drag him, in 
her childish eagerness, towards the doorj and he, nothing 
loath to go, accompanied her. 

A terrible voice in the hall cried, "Bring down Master 
Scrooge's box, there ! " and in the hall appeared the school- 
master himself, who glared on Master Scrooge with a ferocious 
condescension, and threw him into a dreadful state of mind 
by shaking hands with him. He then conveyed him and 
his sister into the veriest old well of a shivering best-parloui 
that ever was seen, where the maps upon the wall, and the 
celestial and terrestrial globes in the windows, were waxy 
with cold. Here he produced a decanter of curiously light 
wine, and a block of curiously heavy cake, and administered 
instalments of those dainties to the young people; at the 
same time sending out a meagre servant to offer a glass of 
" something " to the postboy, v/ho answered that he thanked 
the gentleman, but if it was the same tap as he had tasted 
before, he had rather not. Master Scrooge's trunk being by 
this time tied on to the top of the chaise, the children bade 



t 



1 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 9* 

the schoolmaster good-bye right willingly, and gettine intc 

"Always a delicate creature, whom a breath might have 

. So she had" cried Scrooge. "You're righ?. I will not 
gainsay it, Spirit. C.od forbid I" b i not 

"One child," Scrooge returned. 



' True," said the Ghost. • Your nephew 



I ») 



^^^crooge seemed uneasy in hu mit.d, and answered briefly, 

Although they had bu that moment left the school behind 

them, they were now in the busy thoroughfares of a city 

, where shadowy passengers passed and repassed: where 

I shadowy carts and coaches battled for the way ; and all the 

strife and tumult of a real city were. It was' made plain 

, enough, by the dressing of the shops, that here too it was 

were'lighted r ^^^'" ' ^"^ '' "^""^ *'''^"'"^' """"^ ^^^' '^'^^^ 

The Ghost stopped at a certain warehouse door, and 
asked Scrooge if he knew it. ' 

"Know it ! ;' said Scrooge. " Was I apprenticed here ? " 

. 1 hey went in. At sight of an old gentleman in a Welch 

wig, sitting behind such a high desk, that if he had been 

two inches taller he must have knocked his head against the 

ceihng, Scrooge cried in great excitement,— 

/ Why, it's old Fezziwig! Bless his heart, it's Fezziwig 
ahve again !" , ^ i^i^ 

Old Fezziwig laid down his pen, and looked up at the 
clock, which pointed to the hour of seven, he rubbed his 
hands, adjusted his capacious waistcoat, laughed all over 
himself, from his shoes to his organ of benevolence, and 
called out in a comfortable, oily, rich, fat, jovial voice,— 
Yo ho, there ! Ebenezer ! Dick ! " 

Scrooge's former self now grown a young man, came 
Drif dy m, accompanied by his fellow-'prentice 

"Dick V/ilkins s) be sure!" said Scrooge 'to the GhosL 






54 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

" Bless me, yes. There he is. He was very much attached 

to me, was Dick. Poor Dick ! Dear dear ! " 

•• Yo ho, my boys !" said Fezziwig. "No more work to- 
night. Christmas Eve, Dick. Christmas, Ebenezer ! Let's 
have the shutters up," cried old Fezziwig, with a sharp cla|.' 
of his hands, " before a man can say Jack Robinson ! " 

You wouldn't believe how those two fellows went at it ! 
They charged into the street with the shutters— one, two, 
three— had 'em up in their places— four, five, six— barred 
''^m and pinned 'em— seven, eight, nine— and came back 
before you could have got to twelve, panting like race- 
horses. 

" Hilli-ho ! " cried old Fezziwig, skipping down from the 
high desk with wonderful agility. "Clear away, my lads, 
and let's have lots of room here ! Hilli-ho, Dick ! Chirrup! 
Ebenezer I " ' f* 

Clear away ! There was nothing they wouldn't have 
cleared away, or couldn't have cleared away, with old Fezzi- 
wig looking on. It was done in a minute. Every movable 
was packed off, as if it were dismissed from public life for 
evermore ; the floor was swept and watered, the lamps were 
trimmed, fuel was heaped upon the fire, and the warehouse 
was as snug, and warm, and dry, and bright a . vl-rooni as 
you would desire to see upon a winter's night. 

In came a fiddler with a music-book, and went up to the 
lofty desk and made an orchestra of it, and tuned like fifty 
stonmch-aches. In came Mrs. Fezziwig, one vast substantial 
smile. In came the three Miss Fezziwigs, beaming and 
lovable. In came the six young followers whose hearts 
they broke. In came all the young men and women em- 
ployed in the business. In came the housemaid with her 
cousin, the baker. In came the cook, with her brother's 
particular friend, the milkman. In came the boy from ovet 
the way, who was suspected of not having board enough 
from his master ; trying to hide himself behind the girl from 
next door but one, who was proved to have had her ears 
pulled by her Mistress. In they all came, one after another ; 
some shyly, some boldly, some gracefully, some awkwardly, 
some pushing, some pulling ; in thev all' came, anyhow and 
everyhow Away they all went, twenty couple at once, 



A aiRTSTMA<? CAROT. 35 

hands half round, and back again the other way ; down the 

, middle, and up again ; round and round in various stages 

of affectionate grouping ; old toj; couple always turning up 

, in the wrong place ; new top couple starting off again as 

I soon as they got there ; all top couples at last, and not a 

' TT ?^V -^S'^P ^^^^'^- ^^''^^'" th's ^^'«"'t '^as brought 

^ -Ji' ^^ Jt^T'^' clapping his hands to stop the darKe, 

I cried out, " Well done ! " and the fiddler plunged his ho! 

ace into a pot of porter, especially provided for that purpose 

Hut scorning rest upon his reappearance, he instantly began 

again, though there were no dancers yet, as if the other 

fiddler had been carried home, exhausted, on a shutter, and 

he were a bran-new man resolved to beat him out of sight 

or perish. ^ * 

There were more dances, and there were forfeits, and 
more dances ; and there was cake, and there was negus, and 
there was a great piece of Cold Roast, and there was a great 
piece of Cold Boiled, and there were mince-pies, and plenty 
of beer. But the great effect of the evening came after the 
Roast and Boiled, when the fiddler (an artful dog, mind » 
the sort of man who knew his business better than you or 
I could have told him !) struck up "Sir Roger de Coverley." 
Ihen old Fez/iwig stood cut to dance with TIrs. Fezziwig 
Top couple too, with a good stiff piece of work cut out for 
them: three or four and twenty pair of partners: people 
who were not to be trifled with; people who «wi Lnce. 
and had no notion of walking. 

But if they had been twice as many— ah, four times— old 
Fezziwig would have been a match for them, and so would 
Mrs. Fezziwig. As to /ler, she was worthy to be his partner 
in every sense of the term. If that's not high praise, tell me 
higher and 111 use it. A positive light appeared to issue 
Irom Fezziwig's calves. They shone in ever>' part of the 
dance like moons. You couldn't have predicted, at any 
J I'ven time, what would become of 'cm next. And when old 
K'zziwig and Mrs. Fezziwig had gone all through the dance- 
advance and retire, hold hands with your partner, bow and 
curtsy, corkscrew, thread-the-needle, and back again to your 

t^u^Z^ ^^^''''^'^'l ''"^'" """^ '° ^^^^^y- that he appeared to wink 
with his legs, and came upon his feet again without a stagger. 



t . 






il 



3^ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

When the clock struck eleven, this domestic ball broke 
up. Mr. and Mrs. Fezziwig took their stations, one on 
either side the door, and shaking hands with every person 
individually as he or she went out, wished him or her a 
Merry Christmas. When everybody had retired but the two 
'prentices, they did the same to them ; and thus the cheerful 
voices died away, and the lads were left to their beds, which 
were under a counter in the back-shop. 

During the whole of this time Scrooge had acted like a 
man out of his wits. His heart and soul were in the scene, 
and with his former self. He corroborated everything, re- 
membered everything, enjoyed everything, and underwent 
the strangest agitation. It was not until now, when the 
bright faces of his former self and Dick were turned from 
them, that he remembered the Ghost, and became conscious 
that it was looking full upon him, while the light upon its 
head burned very clear. 

"A small matter," said the Ghost, "to make these silly 
folks so full of gratitude." 

" Small ! " echoed Scrooge. 

The Spirit signed to him to listen to the two apprentices, 
who were pouring out their hearts in praise of Fezziwig ; and 
when he had done so, said, — 

"Why! is it not? He has spent but a few pounds of 
your mortal money— three or four, perhaps. Is that so much 
that he deserves this praise ? " 

"It isn't that," said Scrooge, heated by the remark, and 
speaking unconsciously like his former, not his latter, self. 
" It isn't that, Spirit. He has the power to render us happy 
or unhappy— to make our service light or burdensome, a 
pleasure or a toil. Say that his power lies in words and 
looks ; in things so slight and insignificant that ii is impos- 
sible to add and count 'em up— what then ? The happiness 
he gives is quite as great as if it cost a fortune." 

He felt the Spirit's glance, and stopped. 

" What is the matter?" asked the Ghost. 
Nothing particular," said Scrooge. 

' Something, I think ? " the Ghost insisted. 

" No," said Scrooge, " no. I should like to be able to say 
a word or two to my clerk just now ! That's all." 



i 



(( { 



i 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 37 

His former self turned down the lamps as he gave utter- 
ance to the wish, and Scrooge and the Ghost again stood 
side by side in the open air. 

'•My time grows short," observed the Spirit. " Quick ' " 
Ihis was not address. ri to Scrooge, or to any one whom 
he could see, but it oroduccd i,o. immediate effect For 
again Scrooge saw hi: isdf. He ,vas older now, a man in 
he prime of life. H- C ce ].au not the harsh and rigiS 
lines of later years, but it had begun to wear the signs of 
care and avarice. There was an eager, greedy, restless 
mo ion in the eye which showed the passion that had taken 
roo^ and where the shadow of the growing tree would fall 

He was not alone, but sat by the side of a fair young girl 
in a mourning-dress, in whose eyes there were tears, whkh 
sparkled in the light that shr)ne out of the Ghost of Christ- 
mas Past. v-iiiioi 

AnlLrf P J^"^!]" '^^ T^ '""^'^y- "'i'« >°"' v^^'-y little. 

Another idol has displaced me ; and if it can cheer and 
comfort you in time to come, as I would have tried to do I 
nave no just cause to grieve." ' 

"What Idol has displaced you?" he rejoined 
"A golden one." 
^ ''This is the even-handed dealing cf the world ! " he said 
Ihere is nothing on which it is so hard as poverty: and 
there is nothing it professes to condemn with such severity 
as the pursuit of wealth." ^ 

^^ "You fear the world too much," she answered gently 
All your other hopes have merged into the hope of being 
beyond the chance of its sordid reproach. I have seen your 
nobler aspirations fall off one by one, until the master-passion, 
uain, engrosses you. Have I not ? " 

"What then?" he retorted. "Even if I have grown so 
= much wiser what then ? I am not changed towards you." 

She shook her head. 
I II Am I?" 

k 'u^"'" ^^"^'■^^t is ^" old one. It was made when we were 
both poor and content to be so, until, in good season, we 
could improve our worldly fortune by our patient industry. 
\ on are changed. When it was made, you were another 
Ulan. 



!'^; 






38 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



" I was a boy," he said impatiently. 

" Your own feeling tells you that you were not what you 
are," she returned. " I am. That which promised happiness 
when we were one in heart, is fraught with misery now that 
we are two. How often and how keenly I have thought of 
this, I will not say. It is enough that I have thought of 'l, 
and can release you." 

"Have I ever sought release?" 

" In words — no, never." 

"In what, then?" 

" In a changed nature ; in an altered spirit ; in another 
atmosphere of life, another Hope as its great end. In every- 
thing that made my love of any worth or value in your sight. 
If this had never been between us," said the girl, looking 
mildly but with steadiness upon him, "tell me, would you 
seek me out and try to win me now ? Ah, no ! " 

He seemed to yield to the justice of this supposition, in 
spite of himself. But he said, with a struggle, " You think 
not." 

" I would gladly think otherwise if I could," she answered, 
" Heaven knows ! When / have learned a Truth like this, I 
know how strong and irresistible it must be. But if you were 
free to-day, to-morrow, yesterday, can even I believe that you 
would choose a dowerless girl — you who, in your very confi- 
dence with her, weigh everything by Gain ; or, choosing her, 
if for a moment you were false enough to your one guiding 
principle to do so, do I not know that your repentance and 
regret would surely follow ? I do ; and I release you — with 
a full heart, for the love of him you once were." 

He was about to speak ; but with her head turned from 
him, she resumed, — 

" You may — the memory of what is past half makes me 
hope you will — have pain in this. A very, very brief time, 
and you will dismiss the recollection of it, gladly, as an 
unprofitable dream, from which it happened well that you 
awoke. May you be happy in the life you have chosen ! " 

She left him, and they parted. 

"Spirit!" said Scrooge, "show me no more! Conduct 
me home. Why do you delight to torture me ? " 

" One shadow more I " exclaimed the Ghost. 



39 

I don't wish to 



I A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

"No more ! " cried Scrooge. "No more 
Bee it. Show me no more ! " 

But the relent! ss Ghost pinioned him in both his arms, 
and forced him to observe what happened next. 

They were in another scene and place — a room, not very 
large or handsome, but full of comfort. Near to the winter 
fire sat a beautiful young girl, so like the last that Scrooge 
believed it was the same, until he saw her, now a comely 
matron, sitting opposite her daughter. The noise in this 
room was perfectly tumultuous, for there were more children 
there than Scrooge in his agitated state of mind could count ; 
and, unlike the celebrated herd in the poem, they were not 
forty children conducting themselves like one, but e/ery child 
was conducting itself like forty. The consequences were 
uproarious beyond belief; but no one seemed to care. On 
the contrary, the mother and daughter laughed heartily, and 
enjoyed it very much; and the latter, soon beginning to 
mingle in the sports, got pillaged by the young brigands most 
ruthlessly. What would I not have given to be one of them ! 
Though I never could have been so rude, no, no ! I wouldn't 
for the wealth of all the world have crushed that braided 
hair, and torn it down ; and for the precious little shoe, I 
wouldn't have pluck : off, God bless my soul ! to save my 
life. As to measui r waist in sport, as they did, bold 

young brood, I cou) !.i t have done it ; I should have ex- 
pected my arm to have grown round it for a punishment, and 
never come straight again. And yet I should have dearly 
liked, I own, to have touched her lips ; to have questioned 
her, that she might have opened them ; to have looked upon 
the lashes of her downcast eyes, and never raised a blush ; to 
have let loose waves of hair, an inch of which would be a 
keepsake beyond price ;— in short, I should have liked, I do 
confess, to have had the lightest license of a child, and yet 
been man enough to know its value. 

But now a knock*ing at the door was heard, and such a 
rush immediately ensued, that she, with laughing face and 
plundered dress, was borne towards it, the centre of a flushed 
and boisterous group, just in time to greet the father, who 
came home attended by a man laden with Christmas toys 
and presents. Then the shouting and the struggling, and 



L 



40 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

the onslaught that was made on the defenceless Dorter f Tl,. 

deS hS r h ''"" '^^ ^^^^^-' '- clive So'hT^^cte 
rr?v./\ K- ^'•°^?-Paper parcels, hold on tight bv his 
cravat, hug him round the neck, pommel his back and kirl 

£en Lkenl?hr^^^""°"""""^^"^ that the baby had 

him father and h^^n , • ■ P'°'""'<'' "'Sht have called 
his lire his- =1| tZ :eTSl'"d."''= '-''-' '-'"'- °' 

Who was It ? " I 

" Guess ! " I 

ofdeath I L^ ^*^^ .?■ ?" P^""''"' '"^' "Pon 'he point 

from^i;?i'pLct^ ^"'°^'' '" " •'^ken voice, "remove me 

b^i-^/Z Gh«"'"That1r "' '\^ ""^«^ """ have 
blame me ! '■ ""'^ ^'■'^ "•"" "''^^ "^ do not 

"Remove me ! » Scrooge exclaimed. " I cannot bear it i " 
He turned upon the Ghost, and seeing tha?i"Cked u^ 



-m 

I 



A CllKISTMAS CAROL. 4I 

him with a face in which in some strange way there were 
fragments of all the faces it had shown him, wrestled with it. 

" Ivcave me ! Take me back. Haunt me no longer ! " 

In the struggle, if that can be called a struggle in which 
; tlie Ghost, with no visible resistance on its own part, was un- 
disturbed by any effort of its adversary, Scrooge observed that 
Its light was burning high and bright ; and dimly connecting 
that with its influence over him, he seized the extinguisher- 
cap, and by a sudden action pressed it down upon its head. 

The Spirit dropped beneath it, so that the extinguisher 
covered its whole form ; but though Scrooge pressed it down 
with all his force, he could not hide the light, which streamed 
from under it in an unbroken flood upon the ground. 

He was conscious of being exhausted, and overcome by 
an irresistible drowsine&s ; and, further, of being in his own 
bedroom. He gave the cap a parting squeeze, in which his 
hand relaxed; and h-d barely tin:>e to reel to bed, before 
he sank into a heavy sleep. 






- 



C 



L 



STAVE THREE. 

THE SECOND OF THE THREE SPIRITS. 

Awaking in the middle of a prodigiously tough snore, and 
sitting up in bed to get his thoughts together, Scrooge had no 
occasion to be told that the bell was again upon the stroke 
of One. He felt that he was restored to consciousness in 
the right nick of time, for the especial purpose of holding a 
conference with the second messenger dispatched to him 
through Jacob Marley's intervention. Bat finding that he 
turned uncomfortably cold when he began to wonder which 
of his curtains this new spectre would draw back, he put 
them every one aside with his own hands ; and lying down 
agairi, established a sharp look-out all round the bed. For 
he wished to challenge the Spirit on the moment of its appea^ 
ance, and did not wish to be taken by surprise and made 
nervous. 

Gentlemen of the free-and-easy sort, who plume themselves 
on being acquainted with a move or two, and being usually 



4» A CHRISTMAS CAROL, 

equal to the time-of-day, express the wide range of their 
capacity for adventure by observing that they are good for 
anything from pitch-and-toss to manslaughter ; between which 
opposite extremes, no doubt, there lies a tolerably wide and 
comprehensive range of subjects. Without venturing for 
Scrooge quite as hardily as this, I don't mind calling on 
you to believe that he was ready for a good broad field of 
strange appearances, and that nothing between a baby and a 
rhinoceros would have astonished him very much 

Now, being prepared for almost anything, he was not bv 
any means prepared for nothing ; and consequently, when 
the bell struck One, and no shape appeared, he was taken 
with a violent fit of trembling. Five minutes, ten minutes, a 
quarter of an hoar went by, yet nothing came. All this time 
he lay upon his bed, the very core and centre of a blaze of 
ruddy light, which streamed upon it when the clock pro- 
claimed the hour; and which being only light, was more 
alarming than a dozen ghosts, as he was powerless to make 
out Nvhat It meant, or would be at ; and was sometimes appre- 
hensive that he might be at that very moment an interesting 
case of spontaneous combustion, without having the conso 
lation of knowing it. At last, however, he began to think- 
as you or I would have thought at first; for it is always the 
person not in the predicament who knows what ought to 
have been done in it, and would unquestionably have done 
it too— at last, I say, he began to think t.liat the source and 
secret of this ghostly light might be in the adjoining room, 
from ^v'hence on further tracing it it seemed to shine! This 

lrffl^^^"^u ",P°''^''^''" ^^^^' "^'"^' he got up softly, and 
shuffled m his slippers to the door. 

The moment Scrooge's hand was on the lock, a strange 
voice called him by his name, and bade him enter. He 
obeyed. 

It was his own room. There wa. no doubt about that. 
iSut It had undergone a surprising transformation. The 
walls and ceiling were so hung with living green that it 
looked a perfect grove, from every part of which bright gleam- 
ing berries glistened. The crisp leav.s of holly, mistletoe. 
and ivy reflected back the light, as if so many little mirrors 
had been scattered there; and such a mighty blaze went 



I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 43 

roaring up the chimney, as that dull petrifaction of a hearth 
had never known in Scrooge's time, or Marley's, or for many 
and many a winter season gone. Heaped up upon the floor, 
to form a kind of throne, were turkeys, geese, game, poultry, 
: brawn, great joints of meat, sucking-pigs, long wreaths of 
^sausages, mince-pies, plum-puddings, barrels of oysters, red- 
hot chestnuts, cherry-cheeked apples, juicy oranges, luscious 
pears, immense twelfth-cakes, and seething bowls of punch, 
that made the chamber dim with their delicious steam. In 
easy state upon this couch there sat a jolly Giant, glorious to 
see, who bore a glowing torch, in shape not unlike Plenty's 
horn, and held it up, high up, to shed its light on Scrooge, 
as he came peeping round the door. 

" Come in ! " exclaimed the Ghost. " Come in ! and know 
me better, man ! " 

Scrooge entered timidly, and hung his head before this 
Spirit. He was not the dogged Scrooge he had been; and 
thougli its eyes were clear and kind, he did not like to meet 
them. 

" I am the Ghost of Christmas Present," said the Spirit. 
" Look upon me ! " 

Scrooge reverently did so. It was clothed in one simple 
deep green robe, or mantle, bordered with white fur. This 
garment hung so loosely on the figure, that its capacious 
teast was bare, as if disdaining to be warded or concealed 
by any artifice. Its feet, observable beneath the ample folds 
of the garment, were also bare ; and on its head it wore no 
other covering than a holly wreath set here and there with 
shining icicles. Its dark brcwn curls were long and free — 
free as its genial face, its sparkling eye, its open hand, its 
cheery voice, its unconstrained demeanour, and its joyful air. 
Girded round its middle was an antique scabbard ; but no 
sword was in it, and the ancient sheath was eaten up with 
rust. 

" You have never seen the like of me before ! " exclaimed 
the Spirit. 

" Never," Scrooge made answer to it. 

" Have never walked forth with the younger members of 
my family — meaning (for I am very young) my elder brothers 
bom in these later years ? " pursued the Phantom . 









44 A tHRISFMAS CAROL. 

"I don't think I have," said Scrooge. "I am afraid I 
have not. Have you had many brothers, Spirit?^' ' 

^^ More than eighteen hundred," said the Ghost. 

TtrH'^'fT^u^^'^^ *° P'"^'''^^ fo*- J " muttered Scrooge 
The Ghost of Christmas Present rose. ^ 

vou wir r"^ !T°^u f ^"^'ssively, "conduct m^ where 

Snt a ie«nn K- K^'^^ ^f •' "'^^' °" Compulsion, and I 
learnt a lesson which is working now. To-night, if you have 
aught to teach me, let me profit by it." ^ ^ ^ 

Touch my robe ! " 

Scrooge did as he was told, and held it fast. 

Holly, mistletoe, red berries, ivy, turkevs ppp<:p tramo 
poultry, brawn, meat, pigs, sausages.'oS pieTpudS 
fruit and punch, a 1 vanished instantly. So did tCroom 

he city ^e'eS o'/rt"; ''^ '°"^ ^' "'^^^^ ^^ ^'^^>- «'°^ - 
wi severer^, n ^^r''""^? "'^'■"'"^' ^'^^^^ ^^^^ ^^e weather 
pl^ainTkfnH ofP^'^P-^ ^^"^^ ^ .'°"Sh but brisk and not un- 
pleasant kind of music, in scraping the snow from the pave- 
ment in front of their dwellings, and from the tops of E 
houses-whence it was mad delight to the boys to see it come 
Sffi^nrstrms!'^ ''-' '-'-' ^"^ sp^littinglnrart- 

Kl J^ ^°"'^ ^''''"^' '°°^^^ ^^^^^^ ^"ough, and the windows 
blacker, contrasting with the smooth wh te sheet of snow 
upon the roofs, and with the dirtier snow upon ?he Sound 
wmch last deposit had been ploughed up in^deep furfows by' 
the heavy wheels of carts and wagons-furrows ?hat crossed 
and recrossed ^ch other hundreds of times where the ieat 

tSf in the'?hf.V°^'ir' ""/^ T''^'' ^^-"^1^' h-dTo 
trace, in the thick yellow mud and icy water. The sky was 

gloomy, and the shortest streets were choked up with a din^ 

mist half thawed, half frozen, whose heavier^a ticles d? 

m ureat ±{ritain had, by one consent, caught fire and wpt-p 
blazing away to their dear hearts' content. There was nothW 
very cheerful m the climate or the town; and yet JaTthe e an 

bnVW^r'"^"''' ^^'■°"? '^^' '^^ ^'^^^^' summer aLanS 
bnghtest summer sun might have endeavoured to diffuse "n 

For the people who were shovelling away on the house- 



f 

A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 45 

tops were jovial and full of glee ; calling out to one another 
from the parapets, and now and then exchanging a facetious 
If^nowball— better-natured missile far than many a wordy jest 
laughing heartily if it went right, and not less heartily if it 
went wrong. The poulterers' shops were still half open, and 
the fruiterers' were radiant in their glory. There were great, 
round, pot-bellied baskets of chestnuts, shaped like the waist- 
coats of jolly old gentlemen, lolling at the doors, and tumbling 
|out into the street in thi ir apoplectic opulence. There were 
I ruddy, brown-faced, broad-girthed Spanish onions, shining 
I in the fatness of their growth like Spanish Friars, and wink- 
: ing from their shelves in wanton slyness at the girls as they 
iwent by, and glanced demurely at the hung-up mistletoe. 
There were pears and apples, clustered high in blooming 
: pyramids ; there were bunches of grapes, made, in the shop- 
-keepers' benevolence, to dangle from conspicuous hooks, 
I that people's mouths might water gratis as they passed : 
j there were piles of filberts, mossy and brown, recalling, in 
I their fragrance, ancient walks a.nong the woods, and pleasant 
shufflings ankle deep through withered leaves ; there were 
; Norfolk Biffins, squab and swarthy, setting off the yellow of 
the oranges and lemons, and, in the great compactness of 
their juicy persons, urgently entreating and beseeching to be 
; carried home in paper bags and eaten after dinner. The 
! very gold and silver fish, s^t forth among these choice fruits 
? in a bowl, though members of a dull and stagnant-blooded 
. race, appeared to know that there was something going on ; 
and, to a fish, went gasping round and round their little 
; world in slow and passionless excitement. 
' The grocers' ! oh, the grocers' ! nearly closed, with per- 
; haps two shutters down, or one ; but through those gaps 
> such glimpses I It was not alone that the scales descending 

Ion the counter made a merry sound, or that the twine and 
roller parted company so briskly, or that the canisters were 
rattled up and down like juggling tricks, or even that the 
blended scents of tea and coffee were so grateful to the 
nose, or even that the raisins were so plentiful and rare, 
the almonds so extremely white, the sticks of cinnamon so 
long and straight, the other spices so delicious, the candied 
fruits so caked and spotted with molten sugar as to make 



rfl 



't- 



> 



4<5 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

Norwif?/lS??rS ^"'^ ^"'"' -""^ subsequently bilious. 
«or was t that toe figs were moist and pulpy, or that the 
French plums blushed in modest tartness from treihthly! 
decorated boxes, or that everything was good to eat a,fd in 
Its Christmas dress. But the customers were all so hurried 

fuiT^^"' '" '^^ ^"P^'^"' P^^'"'^^ «<" the da What thev 
tumbled up agamst each other at the door, crih ng thdr 

ter rid canf "''^'^' ""k^ ¥^ ^'^^''^ purchases' upon thccoun 

hulidreds o? ?h'" r"J "^ •""^u '""-^'''^ ^^^'"^' and committed 
ftundreds of the like mistakes in the best humour possible • 

The n^l'h^'n' ""^ ^'-^P^^P^^ ^^^^ «° fr-"k and freslL' 
£h;n^ ^^'..^vf^'^'u^'''^ ^^•^'^ '^^y ^^^t^ned their aprons 
behind might have been their own, worn outside for general 
inspection, and for Christmas daws to peck a f they chose 

rhfn 1 '°°"^'^' ''"IP^"^ """'^^ g°°^ People all to church and 
chapel ; and away they came, flockinfthrough the streets^n 

^Z tfmethe'r? "^' ^'/'^'^ ^^'^^' facV An7at th 
same time there emerged from scores of by-streets lanes 

and nameless tui>..gs, innumerable people,^ carr^g ^S 
dinners to the L J.ers' shops. The^sight of tS ooor 
revellers appeared to interest the Spirit very much fof he 
stood with Scrooge beside him in a baker's doorway and 
taking off the covers as their bearers passed, sprinSfn^ense 
Zn^-'^^'T'' I'V ^'^ ^°^^^h. And it 'wasTvery uncom! 
mon kind of torch ; for once or twice, when there were anZ 
words between some dinner-carriers who had Utled S 

!^d th h ^^ if ^"^ ^ ^"" ^^°P^ °f ^-^ter on thir^fL t 
and their good-humour was restored directly. For thev sa d 

Anners and the progress of their cooking, in the havSd 

^mokedtTi.^'SIn ^'' '-''"^.--. whf;e"hela!em:M 
bmoKea as it its stones were cooking too 

"There is. My own." 
^skl^S^l'""'^ '° ""^ "^ °f '"-^ °" ">is day?" 



i 






A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 47 

"To any kindly given. To a poor one most." 

" Why to a poor one most ? " asked Scrooge. 

" Because it needs it most." 

"Spirit," said Scrooge, after a moment's thought, "I 
wonder you, of all the beings in the many worlds about us, 
should desire to cramp these people's opportunities of inno- 
cent enjoyment." 

" I ! " cried the Spirit. 

" You would deprive them of their means ot dming every 
«iventh day, often the only day on which they can be said to 
dme at all," said Scrooge. " Wouldn't you ? " 

||I!" cried the Spirit. 

"You seek to close these places on the Seventh Day?" 
said Scrooge. "And it comes to the same thing." 

"/seek ! " exclaimed ihe Spirit. 

" Forgive me if I am wrong. It has been done in your 
name, or at least in that of your family," said Scrooge. 

"There are some upon this earth of yours," returned the 
Spirit, " who lay claim to know us, and who do their deeds 
of passion, pride, ill-will, hatred, envy, bigotry, and selfishness 
m our name, who are as strange to ug and all our kith and 
kin as if they had never lived. Remember that, and chajge 
their doings on themselves, not us." 

V ge promised that he would ; and they went on, in- 
visible, as they had been before, into the suburbs of the 
town. It was a remarkable quality of the Ghost (which 
Scrooge had observed at the baker's) that, notwithstanding 
his gigantic size, he could accommodate himself to any place 
with ease, and that he stood beneath a low roof quite as 
gracefully and like a supernatural creature as it was possible 
he could have done in any lofty hall. 

And perhaps it was the pleasure the good Spirit had in 
showing off this power of his, or else it was his own kind, 
generous, hearty nature, and his sympathy with all poor men 
that led him straight to Scrooge's clerk's- for there he went! 
and took Scrooge with him, holding to his robe— and on the 
threshold of the door the Spirit smiled, and stopped to bless 
Sob Cratchit's dwelling with the sprinklings of his torch. 
1 hmk of that ! Bob had but fifteen " bob " a week himself— 
tie pocketed on Saturdays but fifteen copies of his Christian 






4« A CHRISTMAS CAROU 

"urr™"drouI'? '"'~' °' "^"'"^^ Present blessed hi, 

wh.ch are cheap and make a g^ry'sho^ fo'l^^nc" ^S 
her ^Im' ""^ ^''^'-i.^ B«=l'nda Cra.chrs^ond of 
r". I -^ ,'"'• ?'"' '"■*''« '" "bbons; while Master Pe.« 

getting the corners of his monstrous shirt<:ollir /hok'. „ ■ . 

rvniT/""'' ,r" ''!' -" -d 'heir" in" ont Ttt 
ai^^frlj ?„,1 "'> '■'^J"'"^"' '" ''"d himself so gallantly 

spok^ "''^^ "^""'^''^ ^'^ ^ S'^J' appearing as she 

- H^Iuf ^l"^^' "'°'^^^'" ' " ^"^^ the t^'o young Cratchits 

" WK V, ^*'^'' ' '""^^ ^ g°«^^^ Martha ! » ^ ^^^tchits. 

said m/s' r^'f y?"'- heart aJive, my dear, how late you are » » 

Cratch^t "?r' "i^""^ '°J°"S ^^ yo" ^^e come," said Mrs 
??rm?i.rlL'^^^ yeT'' '^'°^^ ^'^ ^^^' "^^ ^^-' -^ ha"e 

CratchlLrlJ^'''''''' iather coming," cried the two younR 
Cr^^chits, who were everywhere at once. "Hide, Marth^ 

So Martha hid herself, and in came litUe Bob, the father-. 






A CHRISTMAS CAROL. ^ 

with at least three feet of comforter, exclusive of the frince. 
hanging down before him, and his threadbare clothes darned 
up and brushed, to l(,ok seasonable -and Titw Tim upon 

M°,"'-'-^'";- •^'''' ^^'' '^''"y '^'''"' '^^' l>«r^- a little crutch, 
and had his limos suf)ported liy an iron frame ' 

round^^' '^^'^^''^ """' Martha?" cried Bob Cratchit, looking 

" Not coming," said Mrs. Cratchit. 

"Not coming!" said Kob, with a sudden declension in 
his high spirits; for he hud been 'iim's blood horse all the 
way from church, and had come home rampant. "Not 
coming upon Christmas Day ! " 

Martha didn't like to see him disappointed, if it were only 
in joke ; so she came out prematurely from behind the closet 
door and ran into his arms, while the two young Cratchits 
hustled Tiny Tim, and bore him off into the wash-house, 
tna he might hear the pudding singing in the copper. 

And how did little Tim behave ?" asked Mrs. Cratchit 
when she had rallied Bob on his credulity, and Bob had 
hugged his daughter to his heart's content. 

r '^u ^°'l'^ /f S?^^'" '"^'^ ^^"^'' " ^"^l f^^'"^^^- Somehow he 
gets thoughtful, sitting by himself so much, and thinks the 
strangest things you ever heard. He tohl me, coming home 
that he hoped the people saw him in the church, because he 
was a cripple, and it might be plcas^mt to them to remember 
upon Christmas Day who made lame beggars walk and blind 
men see. 

Bob's voice was tremulous when he told them this, and 
trembled more when he said that Tiny Tim was growing 
strong and hearty. ** 

His active little crutch was heard upon the floor, and back 
canie Tiny Tim before another word was spoken, escorted 
by his brother and sister to his stool beside the fire; and 
while Bob turnmg up Ms cuffs-as if, poor fellow, they were 
capable of beuig mac>e more; shabby- cornpoiindcil some 
hot mixture in a jug with gin and lemons, and stirred it 
round and round and put it on the hob to simmer, Master 
I eter and the two ubiquitous young Cratchits went to fetch 
the goose, with which they soon returned in high procession, 
buch a bustle ensued that you might have thought a goose 



r 



50 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

succepHpH h.r o K Vui ' "" Srace was said. It was 

bear wi,nasses-,o take the p.ddTg up and~bn^,"Hr '° 

overthe wd of H : K T°'! ^mebody should have got 
were me Jwith thi '«<=kyard, and stolen it, while they 

you^g'Sch tar";i^^"PS^'tV'rl;'^'' "^^ '"^ 
supposed. ■ " ^^^^^ °^ horrors were 

Hallo! A great deal of steam ! The pudding was out 
of the copper A smell like a washing-day ! That wS T 
Cloth. A smell hke an eating-house and a UrynTcL J^next 



J 



I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 5I 

door to each other with a laundress's next door to that' 
That was the pudding. In half a minute Mrs. Cratchii 
entered-flushed, but smiling proudly-with the puddW 
like a speckled cannon-ball, so hard and firm, blazing in ha!f 
of half a quartern of ignited brandy, and bedight with Chris 
mas holly stuck into the top. 

fn?^fU^f ^onderful pudding ! Bob Cratchit said, and calmly 

Mr; rrat^hi;'^"'"^"! •' '' '^' greatest success achieved by 

Mrs. Cratchit since their marriage. Mrs. Cratchit said that 

' "oj^J^« weight was off her mind, she would confess she had 

I had her doubts about the quantity of fl.ur. Eve y body had 

; something to say about it, but nobody said or tSht k 

was at all a small pudding for a large family. It would have 

to hi T.^'^'u^ *"u^° '°- ^"y ^'^''^'^' -^"Id have blushed 
to hint at such a thmg. uancu 

At last the dinner was all done, the cloth was cleared, the 
hearth swept, and the fire made up. The compound in he 
jug being tasted and considered perfect, apples and oranges 
ar 'TLTa"lMh t^-r ? ^f -^^"1 of chestnmsTl'h: 

n whaT Rnh r .'v/'^'i^ ^^"" >' ^'■^^' ^°""^ t^'^ hearth, 
in VN hat Bob Cratchit calltv. a circle, meaning half a one 

and at Bob Cratchit's elbow stood the' family chsplay of glass 
-t\vo tumblers and a custard-cup without a handle: 

1 hese held the hot stuff from the jug, however as well as 
golden goblets would have done; Lli Bob sL'ved It ou 
Nvith beammg looks, while the chestnuts on the fire sputtered 
and crackled noisily. Then Bob pro{)osed- P^'^erea 

yt^'7 ^'i'^"^^ ^"^ "•' ^•'^ "^y ^^^"^^^^ God bless us ! " 
Which all the family re-echoed. 

•^God bless us every one I " said Tiny Tim, the last of all 

UrSVf^ l^'^ "^'f" ^^ ^'^ '"^^^^'■'^ ^'^^'' "P"" '^'-^ Ji"le stool. 
Bob held his withered little hand in his, as if he loved the 

he ir. K^'f if "^ '? ''^l^ '''"' ^y ^''' ^'^^' ^"d ^•■^ad^d that 
ne might be taken from him. 

1 ''^P'7/'",fa'^ Scrooge, with an interest he had lever felt 
before, " tell me if Tiny Tim will live " 

rhimn'^*' ''' vacant seat," replied the Ghost, "in the poor 

Drrerv^/°T/'^?"'^ ^ u'T^ '^'^'^°"^ ^" ^wner, carefully 
preserved. If these shadows remain unaltered bv the 

tuture, the child will die." ^ 



I If 

Mi. 



tr 



52 



A CIIUISTMAS CAROL. 



"No, no," said Scrooge. "Oh, no, kind Spirit! say he 
will be spared." 

" If these shadows remain unaltered by the Future, none 
other of my race," returned the Ghost, " will find him here. 
What then? If he be like to die, he had better do it, and 
decrease the surplus population." 

Scrooge hung his head to hear his own words quoted 
by the Spirit, and was overcome with penitence and 
grief. 

"Man," said the Ghost, "if man you be in heart, not 
adamant, forbear that wicked cant until you have discovered 
What the surplus is, and Where it is. Will you decide what 
men shall live, what men shall die ? It may be that, in the 
sight of Heaven, you are more worthless and less fit to live 
than millions like this poor man's child. O God ! to hear 
the Insect on the leaf pronouncing on the too much life 
among his hungry brothers in the dust ! " 

Scrooge bent before the Ghost's rebuke, and trembling 
cast his eyes upon the ground. But he raised them speedily, 
on hearing his own name. 

" Mr. Scrooge ! " said Bob. " I'll give you Mr. Scrooge, 
the Founder of the Feast ! '' 

"The Founder of the Feast, indeed ! " cried Mrs. Cratchit, 
reddening. " I wish I had him here. I'd give him a piece 
of my mind to feast upon, and I hope he'd have a good 
appetite for it." 

"My dear," said Bob, "the children ; Christmas Day." 

"It should be Christmas Day, I am sure," said she, "on 
which one drinks the health of such an odious, stingy, hard, 
unfeeling man as Mr. Scrooge. You mow he is, Robert! 
Nobody knows it better than you do, poor fellow ! " 

" My dear," was Bob's mild answer, " Christmas Day." 

" I'll drink his health for your sake and the Day's," said 
Mrs. Cratchit, " not for his. Long life to him ! A merry 
Christmas and a happy New Year ! He'll be very merry and 
very happy, I have no doubt ! " 

The children drank the toast after her. It was the first 
of their proceedings which had no heartiness in it. Tiny 
Tim drank it last of all, but he didn't care twopence for it. 
Scrooge was the Ogre of the family. The mention of his 



j A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 53 

: name cast a dark shadow on the party, which was not dis- 

; pelled for full five minutes. 

; After it had passed away, they were ten times merrier than 

i before, from the mere relief of Scrooge the Baleful being 
done with. Bob Cratchit told them how he had a situation 
m his eye for Master Peter, which would bring in, if obtained, 
full five-and-sixpence weekly. The two young Cratchits 
laughed tremendously at the idea of Peter's being a man of 
business ; and Peter himself looked thoughtfully at the fire 
from between his collars, as if he were deliberating what 
particular investments he should favour when he came into 
the receipt of that bewildering income. Martha, who was a 
poor apprentice at a milliner's, then told them what kind of 
work she had to do, and how many hours she worked at a 
stretch, and how she meant to lie a-bed to-morrow morning 
for a good long rest— to-morrow being a holidpv she passed 
at home. Also how she had seen a countess and a lord 
some days before, and how the lord "was much about as tall 
as Peter;" at which Peter pulled up his collars so high that 
you couldn't have seen his head if you had been there. All 
this time the chestnuts and the jug went round and round ; 
and by-and-by they had a song, about a lost child travelling 
m the snow, from Tiny Tim, who had a plaintive little voice 
and sang it very well indeed. ' 

There was nothing of high mark in this. They were not 
a handsome family ; they were not well dressed ; their shoes 
were far from being waterproof; their clothes were scanty; 
and Peter might have known, and very likely did, the inside 
of a pawnbroker's. But they were happy, grateful, pleased 
with one another, and contented with the time ; and when 
they faded, and looked happier yet in the bright sprinklings 
of the Spirit's torch at parting, Scrooge had his eye upon 
them, and especially on Tiny Tim, until the last. 

By this time it was getting dark, and snowing pretty heavily, 
and as Scrooge and the Spirit went along the streets, the 
brightness of the roaring fires in kitchens, parlours, and all 
sorts of rooms, was wonderful. Here, the flickering of the 
blaze showed preparations for a cozy dinner, with hot plates 
baking through and through before the fire, and deep red 
curtains, ready to be drawn, to shut out cold and darkness. 



t 



i{ 



i 



54 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

There, all the children of the house were running out into 
the snow to meet their married sisters, brothers, cousins, 
uncles, aunts, and be the first to greet them. Here, again, 
were shadows on the window-blind of guests assembling- 
and there a group of handsome girls, all hooded and fur- 
booted, and al' chattering at once, tripped lightly off to some 
near neighbour's house; where, woe upon the single man 
who saw them enter— artful witches, well they knew It— in a 
glow ! 

But if you had judged from the numbers of people on 
their way to friendly gatherings, you might have thought that 
no one was at home to give them welcome when they got 
there, instead of every house expecting company, and piling 
up its fires half-chimney high. Blessmgs on it, how the 
Ghost exulted! How it bared its breadth of breast, and 
opened its capacious palm, and floated on, outpouring, with 
a i?enerous hand, its bright and harmless mirth on every 
tb r.g within its reach ! The very lamplighter, who ran on 
beiore, dotting the dusky street with specks of light, and 
who was dressed to spend the evening somewhere, laughed 
out loudly as the Spirit passed— though little kenned the 
lamplighter that he had any company but Christmas ! 

And now, without a word of warning from the Ghost, they 
stood upon a bleak and desert moor, where monstrous masses 
of rude stone were cast about, as though it were the burial- 
place of giants ; and water spread itself wheresoever it listed— 
or would have done so, but for the frost that held it prisoner : 
and nothing grew but moss and furze, and coarse, rank grass 
Down in the west the setting sun had left a streak of fiery 
red, which glared upon the desolation for an instant, like a 
sullen eye, and frowning lower, lower, lower yet, was lost in 
the thick gloom of darkest night. 

" What place is this ? " asked Scrooge. 

"A place where Miners live, who labour in the boweh 
of the earth," returned the Spirit. "But they know me. 
See ! 

A light shone from the window of a hut, and swiftly they 
advanced towards it. Passing through the wall of muv! and 
stone, they found a cheerful company assembled round a 
glowing fire— an old, old man and woman, with their chil- 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



S5 



dren and their children's children, and another generation 
beyond that, all decked out gaily in their holiday attire. The 
old man, in a voice that seldom rose above the howling of 
the wind upon the barren waste, was singing them a Christmas 
song. It had been a very old song when he was a boy; and 
from time to time they all joined in the chorus. So surely 
as they raised their voices, the old man got quite blithe and 
loud ; and so surely as they stopped, his vigour sank again. 

The Spirit did not tarry here, but bade Scrooge hold his 
robe, and passing on above the moor, sped whither? Not 
to sea ? To sea. To Scrooge's horror, looking back, he saw 
the last of the land, a frightful range of rocks, behind them ; 
and his ears were deafened by the thundering of water, as it 
rolled, and i oared, and raged among the dreadful caverns it 
had worn, and fiercely tried to undermine the earth. 

Built upon a dismal reef of sunken rocks, some league or 
so from shore, on which the waters chafed and dashed the 
wild year through, there stood a solitary lighthouse. Great 
heaps of seaweed clung to its base, and storm-birds — born of 
the wind, one might suppose, as seaweed of the water — rose 
and fell about it, like the waves they skimmed. 

But even here, two men who watched the light had made 
a fire, that through the loophole in the thick stone wall shed 
out a ray of brightness on the awful sea. Joining their horny 
hands over the rough table at which they sat, they wished 
each other Merry Christmas in their can of grog ; and one of 
them — the elder, too, with his face all damaged and scarred 
with hard weather, as the figure-head of an old ship might 
be — struck up a sturdy song that was like a gale in itself. 

Again the Ghost sped on, above the black and heaving sea 
— on, on — until, being far away, as he told Scrooge, from 
any shore, they lighted on a ship. They stood beside the 
helmsman at the wheel, the look-out in the bow, the officers 
who had the watch — dark, ghostly figures in their several 
stations — but every man among them hummed a Christmas 
tune, or had a Christmas thought, or spoke below his breath 
to his companion of some bygone Christmas Day, with 
homeward hopes belonging to it. And every man on board, 
waking or sleeping, good or bad, had had a kinder word for 
another on that day than on any day in the year ; and had 



f- 



9 



^ A ■* "^HR'STMAS CAROL. 

delighted .o rememir him '^^ *"'' ^^ ''"°™ ">« they 

was to n-ove on through the lonflvH.'' '°'^'"" ""'"6 " 
known abyss, whose dln.k ^ darkness over an un- 

Death-i,;a^ ™2t surprise f^r ''"^'l-^^ Profound a" 
to hear a hearty^latghP?:,'" S„°°8e, wh,le thus engaged, 
Scrooge to recogrize it as hi. ^ F''"'" ^Tf^e to 

himself in a bright, J y Bltm^. "''''"''"''' ^""^ '° A"" 
standing smiling l.J h J' sm" '"5 TT' "'"> ">« Spirit 
nephew with app^ovLgaffaM,^,,''"'' '°°'"''S ^' that sTm, 

I "^uXuWa^t'nT^tv^r, ""'^ "^ "-'" 
a man more blest in*? iauJh thL c,'""^'>' ';'>'»«. to know 

<=an say is, I should like?" k'tu-'^"®' "^P*"™' *" ^ 
to me and r,l cultivate Ml^^q""!';^-^"- ^""oduce him 

while thtrfS S!rfn1is"e:^\!;^^r ^"' .°^ *'"^^' *« 
in the world so irresistiblv r^«. • ^°'''°'^' ^here is nothine 
humour. VVherScroo^^rn ^^k''"' f ^^"S^^^'" ^"^ goocf 
holding his sides. roH n?h,^ h?5''' J^"^-^"^ ^'^ ^^is way. 

Jtz^herair I: H^^ tri 

More shame for him FrpHt" co-^ o 
dignantly. Bless those ^omen th. ^^^T^^'^ "^^^^ i"" 
hahjes. They are alwI^ysTer/iest ' "''" '° ^">'^*^^"^ ^^ 

surprLXo'^lil^naWaTTc^^^^^^^^ P"^- ^"^ ^ ^-P^ed. 
seemed made to be k?ssed a. L ^ ?^ -^'"'^ "^^^^h, tha 
gCK^d little dots abLfher cTfn thafZlt h^"'' "" ^'"^^ ^^ 
when she laughed ; and the snnnf ^ -"^ '"'° ^"^ ^"^'^er 
^w m any little c;eature's head AI^^.k^' T^ ^^^ ^^^^ 
you would have called orovokw" "^^^^^^^^er she was what 



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A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 57 

"He's a comical old fellow," said Scrooge's nephew. 



the 
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thats the truth; and not so pleasant as he might be. 
4owever, his offences carry their own punishment, and I 
lave nothing to say against him." 

" I'm sure he is very rich, Fred," hinted Scrooge's niece. 
"At least you always tell mg so." 

" What of that, my dear ? " said Scrooge's nephew. " His 
[wealth IS of no use to him. He don't do any good with it 
[He don't make himself comfortable with it He hasn't the 
-satisfaction of thinking— ha, ha, ha !— that he is ever going 
to benefit Us with it." ^ ^ 

" I have no patience with him," observed Scrooge's niece. 
Scrooges niece's sisters, and all the other ladies, expressed 
the same opinion. 

"Oh, I have !" said Scrooge's nephew. "I am sorry for 
himj I couldn't be angry with him if I tried. Who suffers 
by his ill whims? Himself, always. Here, he takes it into 
his head to dislike us, and he won't come and dine with us. 
VVhat s the consequence ? He don't lose much of a dinner." 
"Indeed, I think he loses a very good dinner," interrupted 
Scrooge's niece. Everybody else said the same, and they 
must be allowed to have been competent judges, because 
they had just had dinner ; and, with the dessert upon the 
table, were clustered round the fire, by lamplight. 
"Well 1 I am very glad to hear it" said Scrooge's nephew, 
because I haven't any great faith in these young house- 
keepers. What do you say. Topper ? " 

Topper had clearly got his eye upon one of Scrooge's 
niece s sisters, for he answered that a bachelor was a wretched 
outcast who had no right to express an opinion on the sub- 
ject Whereat Scrooge's niece's sister— the plump one with 
the lace tucker, not the one with the roses— blushed. 
^^ " Do go on, Fred," said Scrooge's niece, clapping her hands. 
He never finishes what he begins to say! He is such 
a ridiculous fellow ! " 

Scrooge's nephew revelled in another laugh ; and as it was 

impossible to keep the infection off— though the plump sister 

tned hard to do it with aromatic vinegar — his example was 

unanimously followed. 

"I was only going to say," said Scrooge's nephew, "that 



.._ 



I.- 
I.' 



5* A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

the consequence of his taking a dislike to us, and not making 

mn'2n:"\- 'k ''' T. I '^'"^' '^^' ^« ^°«^« some pS 
moments which could do him no harm. I am sure he losS 

pleasanter compan ons than he can find in his own thought? 

mean /n •" r"^^r °'^ °^^^ ""^ ^'« d"«ty chambers^ i 
mean to give him the same chance every year, whether he 
likes It or not, for I pity him. He may rJl at Chris!mi dll 
he dies, but he can't help thinking better of it-I defy h?m-- 
if he finds me going there, in good temper, year after year 
and saying, Uncle Scrooge, how are you ? If it only puts 
him m the vein to leave his poor clerk fifty pounds /fi 
something; and 1 think I shook him yesterday^' ' 

qrrooT R ''. K '" ^° 1^"^^ "°^' ^^ ^^^ "^^ion of his shaking 
Scrooge. But being thoroughly good-natured, and not much 
caring what they laughed at, so they laughed at any ratThe 

"youT' '''" " '''" "^"^"^"'' ^"' P-^-d 'heTottle 
After tea they had some music. For they were a musical 

Se"e 'oV'catchT "'^' ^'^^ "^^^ ^^°"^ wh'en they" 
glee or catch, I can assure you; especially Topper who 

could growl away in the bass lik^ a good one and nJver 

Zfr i^" t': '^r .- h-, f-ehead, !r get red in the a" 
over it. Scrooge's niece played well upon the harp • and 
played among other tunes a simple little air (a mere nothing 
you might learn to whistle it in two minS which hfd 
been familiar to the child who fetched Scrooge from the 

Sm&t' m' 1^ '^^'^ ^T"^^^ by ^« Ghost of 
tnings that Ghost had shown him came upon his mind • he 
Hstt^d toT f^ "'°'"'' ^"^ *^°"ght that if he couS have 

k ndneiis of Hf f' ^?'"' ^^^l'^^ ^'^^' ^^^^ ^"^^^^-ted the 
kindnesses of life for his own happiness with his own hands 

jvjthout resorting to the sexton's^ spade that buried j"ob 

But they didn't devote the whole evening to music After ^ 
a while they played at forfeits ; for it is gold to be Children 

mZ ""^'^ ^f """^'' b^"^^ ^^^ ^' Christmas when its 
mighty Founder was a child himself. Stop ! There w2 

? no^jri^r blindman's-buff. Of course there IT ^d 
1 no more believe Topper was really blind than I beUeve he 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 59 

had eyes 'n his boots. My opinion is, that it was a done 
thing between him and Scrooge's nephew; and that the 
Ghost of Christmas Present knew it The way he went after 
ihat plump sister in the lace tuck:;r was an outrage on the 
credulity of human nature. Knocking down the fire-irons, 
tumbling over the chairs, bumping up against the piano, 
smothering himself among the curtains, wherever she went 
there went he. He always knew where the plump sister was. 
He wouldn't catch anybody else. If you had fallen up 
against him, as some of them did, and stood there, he would 
have made a feint of endeavouring to seize you, which would 
have been an affront to your understanding, and would in- 
stantly have sidled off in the direction of the plump sister. 
She often cried out that it wasn't fair, and it really was not. 
But when at last he caught her — when, in spite of all her 
silken rustlings and her rapid flutterings past him, he got her 
into a corner whence there was no escape — then his conduct 
was the most execrable. For his pretending not to know 
her — his pretending that it was necessary to touch her head- 
dress, and further to assure himself of her identity by pressing 
a certain ring upon her finger and a certain chain about her 
neck— was vile, monstrous ! No doubt she told him her 
opinion of it, when, another blindman being in office, they 
were so very confidential together behind the cu... 

Scrooge's niece was not one of the blindman's-b uff party, 
but was made comfortable with a large chair and ;t footstool 
in a snug corner, where the Ghost and Scrooge vere close 
behind her. But she joined in the forfeits, and loved her 
love to admiration with all the letters of the alphabet. Like- 
wise at the game of How, When, and Where, she was very 
great, and, to the secret joy of Scrooge's nephew, beat her 
sisters hollow — though they were sharp girls too, as Topper 
could have told you. There might have been twenty people 
there, young and old, but they all played, and so did Scrooge ; 
for, wholly forgetting in the interest he had in what was going 
on that his voice made no sound in their ears, he sometimes 
came out with his guess quite loud, and very often guessed 
right, too — for the sharpest needle, best Whitechapel, war- 
ranted not to cut in the eye, was not sharper than Scrooge, 
blunt as he took it in his head to be. 



1: 



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** A CHRISTMAS CAROu 

a boy to be aK"oL„ un.il Z": "'f ^^ i^ffi-^d iS 
this the Spirit said could St^'dot '^'•■"' """"'<'• «■" 

SpiriroVone?""' «"""='" "'" ^^-f!- "On« half-hou, 

had'.:Thr„frso'Sinr :nl ^ ""^"^ ^™'«''^ -p"-' 

he only answering, othd/au^Hn^'' '"" "'"" '"'"'' "'" »'"'. 
The brisk fire of aultinnl^^f u- J^i' °' "" "^ ">' <^^ >vas 
from him that hr,StSilw''' *■' '^"^ <'''P™«<» elicited 
rather a disaKreibll^n „", "^ °^ "" *"""«■■ « "ve animal, 
growled an7^^ ^ soSme3 ^^ "" *"™^' "■"' 
hved in London, and walked ?b^m ,t^. '°"'«™<-'s. and 
made a show of, ind waTn-t IM h„ ^^ ^""^'^^ ^"^ wasn't 
a menagerie, and was^ve Vm,''^^">''""^>'' f"d didn't live in 
a horse, or an ass, or a cow o a bu'n I '^l'""' ""^ "^ "°' 
a pig, or a cat, or a. bear At evervfr? K "^"' ■'"' ^ <'°g- °' 
put to him, this neXew burft imo » r k ''"""°" ">" »">s 

andwasso\wpressib1ytickTedTha. h.I''' 'm^ °I '""«•>'"• 
off the sofa and stamp At hft ,hl ^? °'''«"' '° «« "P 
a similar state, cried out _ ^ """P "''"• ''''"'"8 '"'c 

wh« i?!s7»''°""'' " °"' ' ' """^ "hat i, is, Fred I I know 

llJVhat is it?" cried Fred. 
It s your Uncle Scro-o-o-o^ge r " 

.ne!I? ti^nil'obSted S°" T "'^ ""'--' -"'^ 
n»i- fele-n^S ?"i? '^"-"e^ ^'.hj 

-r-fl ?f I saf'Un^S^Zge'llf/ to our hand at the 

Well! Uncle Scrooge 1" the/cried. 
^„r. L ^ Christmas and a hapDv New Vm, f„ ,u i . 
man, whatever he is i " c-ih o ^ , ^"^ *° '"« o'd 
wouldn't take it ^L ' u Scrooge's nephew. " He 
Uncir&r^e l" ^ '"" ""^ ^e have it, neverthelJi 



ne 

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fro 
the 



A C IRISTMAS CAROL. 



61 



! 



Lnclc Scrooge had imperceptibly become so gay and light 

of heart that he would have pledged the unconscious com- 

. ,.any m return, and thanked them in an inaudible speech, if 

I the Chost had given him time. But the whole scenrpasid 

■ f '"aI cf^' • ""^ ^^"^ ^^'^ ^*°''^ ^P^'^^" by his nepheCand 
he and the Spirit were again upon their travels 

Much they saw, and far they went, and many homes they 

visited, but always with a happy end. The Spirit stood 

beside sick-beds and they were cheerful ; on foreign lands. 

and they were close at home; by struggling men, and they 

were patient in their greater hope; b/povLty. and it was 

rich. In almshouse, hospital, and jail, in misery's every 

refuge, where vain man in his little brief authority had not 

made fast the door, and barred the Spirit out, he left his 

blessing, and taught Scrooge his precepts. 

K i' u^^I" ^u"^ "^l^'.' '{ '^ "^^""^ ^"^y ^ "'g^^t ; but Scrooge 
had his doubts of this, because the Christmas Holidays at 
peared to be condensed into the space of time they tissed 
together^ It was strange, too, that while Scrooge remained 
unaltered m his outward form, the Ghost grew older, clearly 
older. Scrooge had obserN-ed this change, but never spoke 
of it, until they left a children's Twelfth Night party, wiien 
looking at the Spirit as they stood ..^aher in an open place.* 
he noticed that its hair was grey. 
I* Are spirits' lives so short?" asked Scrooge. 

My life upon this globe is very brief," replied the Ghost. 
It ends to-night. 
" To-night ! " cried Scrooge, 
nea'r^"^"'^^' ^' midnight. Hark! The time is drawing 

The chimes were ringing the three-quarters past eleven at 
that moment. ^ 

"Forgive me if I am not justified in what I ask," said 
bcrooge, looking intently at the Spirit's robe, " but I see 
something strange, and net belonging to yourself, protruding 
Irom your skirts. Is it a foot or a claw ?" 

.u *'!' ."?f ^^ be a claw, for the flesh there is upon it," was 
the Spirit's sorrowful reply. " Look here." 

From the foldings of its robe it brought two children- 
wretched, abject, frightful, hideous, miserable. They knelt 



t, 






If- 



62 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 






down at its feet, and clung upon the outside of its ^ft^ 

cll?d tlfe'Sho^' '"^' '^^' '"^^ ^°- ^-'" - 
They were a boy and a girl. Yellow, meagre, ragged 
scowhng, wolfish; but prostrate, too. in thei? huS 
Where graceful youth should have filled their features om 
and touched them with its freshest tints, a stale and shriveS 

n^ni^iK' '^"^°^"«"i ^^^. p'"^^^^ ^"^ ^^'^^^d them 11 

pulled them mto shreds. Where angels might have si en 
throned, dev.ls lurked, and glared out menacing. No change 
rjo degradatton, no perversion of humanity, in any grade 
through all the mysteries of wonderful creation, has monsters 
half so horrible and dread. '"onsiers 

himTtf! ''^'^^t ^^- ^^ ^PP^"^^- "^^'"« t^^"^ shown to 
him in this way, he tried to say they were fine children : but 

the words choked themselves rather than be parties to a 1^ 
of sucn enormous magnitude. 

•; Spirit ! are they yours ? » Scrooge could say no more. 

them '^ And S^'"'V ""^ '^' ^P'"^ looking' down upon 
Th?^*K • T ^^^ "^^'"S to me. appealing from their fathers 
hn/h 'V'l^T^?'^ This girl is Want. Beware them 

inl«^h °" ^'\^'-°^ I T '^^' ^""^" ^h'^h is Doom, 
unless the writing be erased. Deny it!" cried the SmVi/ 
stretching out its hand towards the city. " Slander those who 

Its^r UlSir^h^L'ciT" ^^^^^°- p"^--' -^ -^« " 

" Have they no refuge or resource ? " cried Scrooge 
Are there no prisons ? " said the Spirit, turning on him 
houses?"'' '""' '^ ^'" °^" ^°'^- ^'^ there^no woJ!!; 

The bell struck twelve. 

Scrooge looked about him for the Ghost, and saw it not 
As the last stroke ceased to vibrate, he remembered the pre^ 
diction of old Jacob Marlcy, and lifting up his eyes behdd 
a solemn Phantom, draped and hoode| coming, like a mist 
tJong the ground, towards him. e» c a misi 



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A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 
STAVE FOUR. 

THE LAST OF THE SPIRITS. 



63 



i 



iHE Phantom slowly, gravely, silently approached. When 
11 came near hmi, Scrooge- bent down upon his knee ; for in 
the very air through which this Spirit moved it seemed to 
scatter gloom and mystery. 

It was shrouded in a deep black garment, which concealed 
Its head, Its fac^ its form, and left nothing of it visible save 
one outstretched hand. But for this it would have been 
difficult to detach Its figure from the night, and «'parate it 
irom the darkness by which it was surrounded 

He felt that it was tall and stately when it came beside 
him, and that its mysterious presence filled him with a solemn 
dread. He knew no more, for the Spirit neither spoke nor 
moved. *^ 

" I am in the presence of the Ghost of Christmas Yet To 
Come ? " said Scrooge. 
^^ The Spirit answered not, but pointed onward with its 

" You are about to show me shadows of the things th.'>t 
have not happened, but will happen in the time before us"' 
Scrooge pursued. " Is that so, Spirit ? " 

The upper portion of the garment was contracted for an 
instant in its folds, as if the Spirit had inclined its head 
1 hat was the only answer he received. 

Although well used to ghostly company by this time, 
Srrooge feared the silent shape so much that his legs trem 
bled beneath him, and he found that he could hardly stand 
when he prepared to follow it. The Spirit paused a moment 
as obsemng his condition, and giving him time to recover ' 
^ut Scrooge was all the worse for this. It thrilled him 
with a vague uncertain horror to know that behind the dusky 
shroud there were ghostly eyes intently fixed upon him, while 
lie, though he stretched his own to the utmost, could see 
nothing but a spectral hand and one great heap of black. 

Ghost of the Future !" he exclaimed, "I fear you morr 
than any Spectre I have seen. But, as I know your purpos ^ 
»s to do me good, and as I hope to live to be another nian' 



^ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

from what I was, I am prepared to bear you comoanv inH 

do It with a thankful heart/ Will you not^peak to meV" 

beforeTem "' '"^''' ^^' '""^ "^ P^^"^^^ ^^-^ght 
"Lead on!'* said Scrooge. "Lead on! The nieht is 
on'T^rfu '' '"' '' " P"^'°^ ^^"^^ '^ --' I know.'Tead 
The Phantom moved away as it had come towards him 
Scrooge followed in the shadow of its dress, whicTbore him 
up, he thought, and carried him along. 

They scarcely seemed to enter the city, for the city rather 

trotlrZZ'''':^ ^'^"' and'encompL'Them'S 
us own act. But there they were, in the heart of it • on 

^ril-'^TT' '^^ "^^--^hants, who hurried up and diwn 
and chmked the money in their pockets, and conversedTn 

SKr ^t'tl'^ '!^^'^ r^""^'^ and'trifledTougMM 
Jhem often^ ^ "^^"' ^''^ '^ ^°^'^' ^ Scrooge hid seen 

ObTennnftLfr'^ ^f^' °"^^^"'^ ^"°^ of business men. 

^To^SttttheTr'r '""^^' ^° ^'^"^' ^^^°°^^ ^^- 

Hon'f^?" "^'"^ ^ FT ^^^ ""^^ ^th a monstrous chin, " I 
dont^know much about it, either way. I only know'he's 

" When did he die ? » inquired another. 

^^ Last night, I believe." 

*;Why, what was the matter with him?" asked a thirH 

«SS.^ J^nows," said the first, with a ya\vn. 

gentleman with a pendulous excrescence on the end of his 
nose that shook like the gills of a turkey-cock. 

ing L^r "^iS-t"'-: fi^f^V"'" -th the large chin, yawn- 
Li itT^. that's d?l'kno^w7^^"^'^^^'^P^- "^'^^""^ 

This pleasantry was received with a general laugh, 
speaker ^forMn' ^ T^^^/^^^P ^""^'•-V' said the same 
to It. Suppose we make up a party and volunteer." 



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A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 5j 

"I don't mind going if a lunch is provided," observed the 

Another laugh. 

"Well, I am the most disinterested among you, after all " 
sa,d the first speaker, "for I never wear bllck glo S^ and 
i never eat lunch But I'll offer to go. if anybodv else wHl 
Uhen I come to thmk of it, I'm not It all sure thit I wasn't 
his most particular friend, for we used to stop and speak 
whenever we met. Bye, bye ! " ^ 

^rnu^^^^'i ^""^ "'l^"^'' 'I'''"^^ ^^"^y- ^"^ "^i^^d with other 
groups. Scrooge knew the men, and looked towards the 
Spirit for an explanation. t^warcis me 

The Phantom glided on into a street. Its finger pointed 

o two persons meeting Scrooge listened again, thinking 

that the explanation might lie here. ^ 

He knew these men, also, perfectly. They were men of 
business-very wealthy, and if great' importlnce He had 
made a point always of standing veil in their esteem-in a 
business point of view, that is; strictly in a business point of 

" How are you ? " said one. 

I'S'^n .^f^ >'°"''" returned the other. 
last,^ey?" ""'"^ '^' ^'"'' "^^'^ ^'^^'^^ ^^' ^^' ^^' °^n ^^ 

II So I am told » returned the second. " Cold, isn't it ? » 
suppor?"" Christmas time. You're not a skater, I 

N^f'^'.r.nrS' ^'''^'f^['}l^^'^^o think o(. Good-morning I" 
Not another word. That was their meeting, their confer- 
sation, and their parting. ^ i-onver 

.hnnir^f/'f ^^ ^''^ ^"''^'"^^ ^° ^^ surprised that the Spirit 
r^v,Jl hf?i-'"P°'''^"'.' '° conversations apparently^o 
trivial ; but feeling assured that they must have some hidden 
purpose, he set himself to consider what it was likely to be 
dearth n°r T 'T""^^ be supposed to have any bearing on the 

put' ^^^' ^'' ""[^ P^'^"^^'' ^°^ '^^' ^-^s J^a^t. and this 
Ghost s province was the Future. Nor could he think of any 

^nniJT 'l^^ connected with himself to whom he coul^ 
apply them. But nothing doubting that to whomsoever thegr 



I » > 



f ' 






G6 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL, 



applied they had some latent moral for his own improve 
ment, he resolved to treasure up every word he heard and 
eyerythmg he saw, and especially to observe the shadow of 
himself when it appeared. For he had an expectation that 
the conduct of his future self would give him the clue he 
missed, and would render the solution of these riddles 
easy. 

He looked about in that very place for his own image; 
but another man stood m his accustomed corner, and though 
the clock pointed to his usual time of day for being there, he 
saw no likeness of himself among the multitudes that poured 
in through the Porch. It gave him little surprise, however ; 
for he had been revolving in his mind a change of life, and 
thought and hoped he saw his new-bom resolutions carried 
out in this. 

Quiet and dark, beside him stood the Phantom, with its 
outstretched hand. When he roused himself from his 
thoughtful quest, he fancied from the turn of the hand, and 
Its situation in reference to himself, that the Unseen Eyes 
were looking at him keenly. It made him shudder, and feel 
very cold. 

They left the busy scene, and went into an obscure part 
of the town, where Scrooge had never penetrated before, 
although he recognized its situation and its bad repute 
The ways were foul and narrow; the shops and houses 
wretched; the people half-naked, drunken, slipshod, ugly, 
ijyieys and archways, like so many cesspools, disgorged their 
Offences of smell, and dirt, and life upon the straggling streets ; 
and the whole quarter reeked with crime, with filth, and 
misery. 

Far in this den of infamous resort there was a low-browed, 
beetling shop, below a pent-house roof, where iron, old rags 
tX)ttIes, bones, and greasy offal were bought. Upon the floor 
.^thin were piled up heaps of rusty keys, nails, chains, hinges, 
ffles, scales, weights, and refuse iron of all kinds. Secrets 
that few would like to scrutinize were bred and hidden in 
mountains of unseemly rags, masses of corrupted fat, and 
sepulchres of bones. Sitting in among the wares he dealt 
m, by a charcoal-stove made of old bricks, was a grey-haired 
rascal, nearly sevenly years of age, who had screened himc^if 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 67 

from the cold air without by a frowzy curtaining of miscel- 
laneous tatters hung upon a line, and smoked his pipe in all 
j the luxury of calm retirement. 

I Scrooge and the Phantom came into the presence of this 
man just as a woman with a heavy bundle slunk into the 
shop. But she had scarcely entered when another woman, 
similarly laden, came in too; and she was closely followed 
by a man m faded black, who was no less startled by the 
sight of them than they had been upon the recognition o^ 
each other. After a short period of blank astonishment, in 
which the old man with the pipe had joined them, they all 
three burst into a laugh. 

" Let the charwoman alone to be the first ! » cried she who 
had entered first. « Let the laundress alone to be the second 
and let the undertaker's man alone to be the third. Look 
here, old Joe, here's a chance ! If we haven't all three met 
here without meaning it ! " 

"You couldn't have met in a better place," said old Toe 
removing his pipe from his mouth. " Come into the parlour' 
\ou were made free of it long ago, you know ; and the other 
two am t strangers. Stop till I shut the door of the shop. 
Ah ! how It skreeks ! There ain't such a rusty bit of metal 
in the place as its own hinges, I believe ; and I'm sure there's 
no such old bones here as mine. Ha, ha ! We're all suit- 
able to our calling— we're well matched. Come into the 
parlour. Come into the parlour." 

The parlour was the space behind the screen of rags. The 
old man raked the fire together with an old stair-rod, and 
having trimmed his smoky lamp (for it was night) with the 
stem of his pipe, put it in his mouth again. 

While he did this, the woman who had already spoken 

threw her bundle on the floor a.id sat down in a flauntinR 

manner on a stool, crossing her elbows on her knees, and 

looking with a bold defiance at the other two. 

"What odds then? What odds, Mrs. Dilber?" said the 

^ woman. "Every person has a right to take care of them, 

I selves. He always did I " 



That's true, indeed!" said the laundress. "No 



more so 



man 



iU.! 






t 



u 



Why, then, don't stand staring as if you was afraid. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

woman; who's the wiser? We're not going to pick holes 
in each other's coats, I suppose ? " 

" No, indeed ! " said Mrs. Dilber and the man together 
" We snould hope not." 

"Very well, then! "cried the woman. "That's enough. 
Who's the worse for the loss of a few things like these ? Not 
a dead man, I suppose." 

"No, indeed," said Mrs. Dilber, laughing. 

" If he wanted to keep 'em after he was dead, a wicked 
old screw," pursued the woman, " why wasn't he natural in 
his lifetime? If he had been, he'd have had somebody to 
look after him when he was struck with Death, instead of 
lying gasping out his last there alone oy himself" 

"It's the truest word that ever was spoke," said Mrs. 
Dilber. " It's a judgmenv on him." 

"I wish it was a little heavier judgment," replied the 
woman; "and it should have been, you may c'epend upon 
it, if I could have laid my hands on anything else. Open 
that bundle, old Joe, and let me know the value of it. Speak 
out plain. I'm not afraid to be the first, nor afraid for them 
to see it. We knew pretty well that we were helping our- 
selves, before we met here, I believe. It's no sin. Ooen 
the bundle, Joe." 

But the gallantry of her friends would not allow of this, 
and the man in faded black, mounting the breach first, pro- 
duced his plunder. It was not extensive. A seal or two, a 
pencil-case, a pair of sleeve-buttons, and a brooch of no great 
value, were all. They were severally examined and appraised 
by old Joe, who chalked the sums he was disposed to give 
for each upon the wall, and added them up into a total when 
he found that there was nothing more to come. 

"That's your account," said Joe; "and I wouldn't give 
another sixpence, if I was to be boiled for not doine it. 
Who's next?" ^ 

Mrs. Dilber was next Sheets and towels, a little wearing 
apparel, two old-fashioned silver teaspoons, a pair of sugai-- 
tongs, and a few boots. Her account was stated on the wall 
in the same manner. 

"I always give too much to ladies. It's a weakness of 
mine, and that's the way I ruin myself." said old Joe. " That's 



the 
do 

■^ucl 

iS 1 
Xi t 

S 



d 
n 



)f 



^ 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 69 

your account. If you asked me for another penny, and made 
It an open question, I'd repent of being so liberal, and knock 
off half a crown." 

"And now undo my bundle, Joe," said the first woman. 

Joe went down on his knees for the greater convenience 
of openmg it, and having unfastened a great many knots, 
dragged out a large and heavy roll of some dark stuff. 

!! ??f» ^° y°" "^^^ ^^''^ '' " ^^^ Jo^^- " Bed-curtains ! " 
Ah ! returned tne woman, laughing and leaning forward 
on her crossed arms. " Bed-curtains ! " 

" You don't mean to say you took 'em down, rings and all 
with him lying there ? " said Joe. ' 

I' Yes, I do," replied the woman. " Why not ? " 

"You were born to make your fortune," said Joe, "and 
you'll certainly do it." 

" 1 certainly shant hold my hand wlien I can get anything 
m It by reaching it out, for the sake of such a man as he 
was, I promise you, Joe," returned the woman coolly. " Don't 
drop that oil upon the blankets, now." 

" His blankets ? " asked Joe. 

" Whose else's, do you think ? » replied the woman. " He 
'5n't likely to take cold without 'em, I dare say." 

"I hope he didn't die of anything catching? Eh?" said 
old Joe, stopping in his work, and looking up. 

** Don't you be afraid of that," returned the woman. " I 
ain't so fond of his company that I'd loiter about him for 
such things, if he did. Ah ! You may look through that shirt 
till your eyes ache, but you won't find a hole in it, nor a 
threadbare place. It's the best he had, and a fine one too. 
rhey d have wasted it, if it hadn't been for me." 

I* What do you call wasting of it ? " asked old Joe. 

"Putting it on him to be buried in, to be sure," replied 
the woman with a laugh. "Somebody was fool enough to 
do It, but I took it off again. If calico ain't good enough for 
<uch a purpose, it isn't good enough for anything. It's quite 
^s becoming to the body. He can't look uglier than he did 
in that one." 

Scrooge listened to this dialogue in horror. As they sat 
grouped about their spoil, in the scanty light afforded by the 
old man's lamp, he viewed them with a detestation and dis* 



i ; * 



I? 



i I 



70 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

gust, which could hardly have been greater though they had 

been obscene demons marketing the corpse itself. 

"Ha, ha 1 " laughed the same woman, when old Joe, pro- 
ducing a flannel bag with money in it, told out their several 
gains upon the ground. "This is the end of it, you see! 
He frighter ^d every one away from him when he was alive, 
to profit us when he was dead ! Ha, ha, ha ! " 

" Spirit ! " said Scrooge, shuddering from head to foot, " I 
see, I see. The case of this unhappy man might be my own. 
My life tends that way, now. Merciful Heaven, what is this ? " 
He recoiled in terror, for the scene had changed, and 
now he almost touched a bed— a bare, uncurtained bed- 
on which, beneath a ragged sheet, there lay a something 
covered up, which, though it was dumb, announced itself in 
awful language. 

The room was very dark, too dark to be observed with 
any accuracy, though Scrooge glanced round it in obedience 
to a secret impulse, anxious to know what kind of room it 
was. A pale light, rising in the outer air, fell straight upon 
the bed; and on it, plundered and bereft, unwatched, un- 
wept, uncared for, was the body of this man. 

Scrooge glanced towards the Phantom. Its steady hand 
was pointed to the head. The cover was so carelessly ad- 
justed that the slightest raising of it, the motion of a finger 
upon Scrooge's part, would have disclosed the face. He 
thought of it, felt how easy it would be to do, and longed to 
do it, but had no more power to withdraw the veil than to 
dismiss the spectre at his side. 

Oh, cold, cold, rigid, dreadful Death, set up thine altar here 
and dress it with such terrors ^ thou hast at thy command ' 
for this IS thy dominion ! But of the loved, revered, and 
honoured head, thou canst not turn one hair to thy dread 
purposes, or make one feature odious. It is not that the 
hand is heavy and will fall down when released ; it is not 
that the heart and pulse are still ; but that the hand was ' 
open, generous, and true ; the heart, brave, warm, and ten- 
der ; and the pulse a man's. Strike, Shadow, strike ! And 
see his good deeds springing from the wound, to sow the 
world with life immortal ! 
No voice pronounced these words in Scrooge's ears, and 



I 






I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROU 71 

yet he heard them when he looked upon the bed. He 
thought, If this man could be raised up now, what would be 
his foremost thoughts ? Avarice, hard dealing, griping cares ? 
They have brought him to a rich end, truly ! 

He lay in the dark, empty house, with not a man, a 
woman, or a child to say he was kind to me in this or that 
and for the memory of one kind word I will be kind to him 
A cat was tearing at the door, and there was a sound ol 
gnawing rats beneath the hearthstone. What they wanted 
in the room of death, and why they were so restless and dis- 
turbed, Scrooge did not dare to think. 

" Spirit ! " he said, " this is a fearful place. In leaving it, 
I shall not leave its lesson, trust me. Let us go ! " 

Still the Ghost pointed with an unmoved finger to the head. 

" I understand you," Scrooge returned, " and I would do 
it if I could. But I have not the power, Spirit ; I have not 
the power." 

Again it seemed to look upon him. 

" If there is any person in the town who feels emotion 
caused by this man's death," said Scrooge, quite agonized, 
" show that person to me. Spirit, I beseech you ! " 

The phantom spread its dark robe before him for mo- 
ment, like a wing ; and withdrawing it, revealed a room by 
daylight, where a mother and her children were. 

She was expecting some one, and with anxious eagerness ; 
for she walked up and down the room, started at every sound, 
looked out from the window, glanced at the clock, tried, but 
in vain, to work with her needle, and could hardly bear the 
voices of the children in their play. 

At length the long-expected knock was heard. She hurried 
to the door, and met her husband — a man whose face was 
careworn and depressed, though he was young. There was 
a remarkable expression in it now — a kind of serious delight 
of which he felt ashamed, and which he struggled to repress. 

He sat down to the dinner that had been hoarding for 
him by the fire ; and when she asked him faintly what news 
(which was not until after a long silence), he appeared em* 
barrassed how to answer. 

" Is it good," she said, " or bad ? " — to help him. 

"Bad," he answered. xa 



^ A CHRISTMAS CAROL. ' 

" We are quite ruined ?" 

•'No. There is hope yet, Caroline." 
r.. M relents," she said amazed, "there is ! Nothing is 
past hope. If such a miracle has happened." ^ 

He is past relenting," said her husband. « He is dead " 

trnfh w I ""'^^ ^^^ ,P^^'^"' ^'^^^"'•e» if her face spoke 
truth ; but she was thankful in her soul to hear it, and she 
said so, with clasped hands. She prayed forgivenSs the 

ofVZT "^ "" ""^' ^"' ^''"'^^ "^^ the emotfon 
_ "What the half-drunken woman whom I told you of last 
night said to me when I tried to see him andobtJn a weePs 
delay, and what I thought was a mere excuse to avoid me 
urns out to have been quite true. He was not only vT5 
ill, but dying, then." ^ ^^ 

*' To whom will our debt be transferred ? " 

" I don't know. But before that time we shall be ready with 
the money ; and even though we were not. it would be bad 
fortune mdeed to find so merciless a creditor in his successor 
We may sleep to-night with light hearts, Caroline ! " 

TuV\^^A ,)^ "^ !^^y '^°"^^' their hearts were lighter. 
The children's faces, hushed and clustered round to he? 
what they so little understood, were brighter; and it wL 
thilTrK^^"'" ^Z 'l?'^ "^""'^ ^^'^''' Ihe inly emotTo^ 

"Ut me see some tenderness connected with a death" 

S^nr^l^h r ^'^' ^^^^ ^^^"^^-' Spi"^ -hich wfleft 
just now, will be for ever present to me 

to hfff.^t'"'' conducted him through several streets familiar 

tLrl to fi^/K^ "^1?? ^^"* ^^°"g' Scrooge looked here . . 
there to find himself, but nowhere was he to be seen. Th 
entered poor Bob Cratchit's house-the dwelling he had 
rTund the firer'""^ ''""^ the mother and the chiwfen leated 

stii?ai^^;t.tni'^' '^"'^^- ^^'^ "°''y ^^"^^ C'-^tchits were as 
whlf i u ^'u """^ ^°'*"e'"' ^"d sat looking up at Peter 
who had a book before him. The mother and her daughters 
were engaged in sewing But surely they were very qufet . 
And He took a child, and set him in the midst of them.'" 



L 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 73 

Where had Scrooge heard those words? He had not 
dreamed them. The boy must have read them out, as he 
and the Spirit crossed the threshold. A\hy did he not go on ? 

The mother laid her work upon the table, and put her 
hand up to her face. 

" The colour hurts my eyes," she said. 

The colour ? Ay, poor Tiny Tim ! 

"They're better now again," said Cratchit's wife. "It 
makes them weak by candle-light; and I wouldn't show 
weak eyes to your father when he comes home, for the world. 
It must be near his time." 

"Past it rather," Peter answered, shutting up his book. 
"But I think he has walked a little slower than he used, 
these few last evenings, mother." 

They were very quiet again. At last she said, and in a 
steady cheerful voice, that only faltered once, — 

"I have known him walk with — I have known him walk 
with Tiny Tim upon his shoulder very fast indeed." 

"And so have I," cried Peter — "often." 

" And so have I ! " exclaimed another. So had alL 

"But he was very light to carry," she resumed, intent 
upon her work, "and his father loved him so, that it was 
no trouble — no trouble. And there is your father at the 
door ! " 

She hurried out to meet him, and little Bob in his com- 
forter — he had need of it, poor fellow — came in. His tea 
was ready for him on the hob, and they all tried who should 
help him to it most. Then the tv o young Cratchits got upon 
his knees and laid each child a little cheek against his face, 
as if they said, " Don't mind it, father. Don't be grieved ! " 

Bob was very cheerful with them, and spoke pleasantly to 
all the family. He looked at the work upon the table, and 
praised the industry and speed of Mrs. Cratchit and the girls. 
They would be done long before Sunday, he said. 

" Sunday ! You went to-day then, Robert ? " said his wife. 

" Yes, my dear," returned Bob. " I wish you could have 
gone. It would have done you good to see how green a 
place it is. But you'll see it often. I promised him that 
I would walk there on a Sunday. My litUe, little child 1 " 
cried Bob. " My little child 1 " 



i'^ I 



\n 

t' 



61 



i\ 



T4 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

He broke down all at once. He couldn't help it. If he 
could have helped it, he and his child would have been 
further apart perhaps than they were. 

He left the room, and went upstairs into the room above, 
which was lighted cheerfully, and hung with Christmas. 
There was a chair set close beside the child, and there were 
signs of some one having been there lately. Poor Bob sat 
down in It, and when he had thought a little and composed 
himself, he kissed the little face. He was reconciled to what 
had happened, and went down again quite happy. 

They drew about the fire, and talked— the girls and 
mother working still. Bob told them of the extraordinary 
kindness of Mr. Scrooge's nephew, whom he had scarcely 
seen but once, and who, meeting him in the street that day 
and seeing that he looked a little-" just a little down, you 
know, said Bob inquired what had happened to distress 
him "On which," said Bob, "for he is the pleasantest- 
spoken gentleman you ever heard, I told him. «I am 
heartily sorry for it, Mr. Cratc!iit,' he said, 'and heartily 
sorry for your good wife.' By-the-bye, how he ever knew 
lAafy I don't know." 

" Knew what, my dear ? " 
" Why, that you were a good wife," replied Bob. 
Everybody knows that ! " said Peter. 



-- -- "-. ..^v, »v, jwu 11* cuiy way, ne saiQ, giving me 
his card, * thafs where I live. Pray come to me.' Now. it 
wasnt, cned Bob, "for the sake of anything he might be 
able to do for us, so much as for his kind way, that this was 
quite delightful. It really seemed as if he had known our 
Tiny Tim, and felt with us." 

II rm sure he's a good soul ! " said Mrs. Cratchit. 
You would be surer of it, my dear," returned Bob "if 
you saw and spoke to him. I shouldn't be at all surprised 
mark what I say, if he got Peter a better situation." 
"Only hear that, Peter," said Mrs. Cratchit. 
"And then," cried one of the girls, " Peter will be keeping 
company with some one, and setting up for himself." 
Get along with jou I » retorted Petei^ grinning. 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL* 75 

•• It's just as likely as not," said Uob, " one of these days, 
though there's plenty of time for that, my dear. But how- 
ever and whenever we part from one another, I am s!jre we 
shall none of us forget poor Tiny Tim— shall we — or this 
iirst parting that there was among us ? " 

" Never, father ! " cried they all. 

"And I know," said Uob, "1 know, my dears, that when 
we recollect how patient and how mild he was— although he 
was a little, little child— we shall not cjuarrel easily among 
ourselves, and forget poor Tiny Tim in doing it." 

" No, never, father ! " they all cried again. 

" I am very happy," said little Bob ; '♦ I am very happy I " 

Mrs. Cratchit kissed him, his daughters kissed him, the 
two young Cratchits kissed him, and Peter and himself 
shook hands. Spirit of Tiny Tim, thy childish essence was 
from God ! 

"Spectre," said Scrooge, "something informs me that 
our parting moment is at hand. I know it, but I know 
not how. Tell me what man that was whom we saw Iviny 
dead?" ' ^ 

The Ghost of Christmas Yet To Come conveyed him, as 
before — though at a different time, he thought: indeed, there 
seemed no order in these latter visions, save that they were 
in the Future — into the resorts of business men, but showed 
him not himself. Indeed, the Spirit did not stay for any- 
thing, but went straight on, as to the end just now desired, 
until besought by Scrooge to tarry for a moment. 

"This court," said Scrooge, "through which we hurry now 
is where my place of occupation is, and has been for a length 
of time. I see the house. Let me behold what I shall be 
in days to come." 

The Spirit stopped ; the hand was pointed elsewhere. 

"The house is yonder,' Scrooge exclaimed. "Why do 
you point away ? " 

The inexorable finger underwent no change. 

Scrooge hastened to the window of his office, and looked 
in. It was an office still, but not his. The furniture was 
not the same, and the figure in the chair was not himself. 
The Phantom pointed as before. 

He joined it once again, and wondering why and whither 



f ' 



V- 



7^ A CHRISTMAS CAROU 

he had gone, accompatuod it until they reached an iron ffate. 
He paused to look round before entering ^ 

A churchyard. Here, then, the wretched man whose 
name he had now to learn lay underneath the Sound k 
was a worthy place. Walled in by houses ; overrun by Ws 
un wTrhl^U'''''" ^T'^ °^ vegetation's death, not life Sd 
ZnU^^^^r ^"'''"^' ''' ""^ ''^''''^ *^PP^^"«- A 
One^^ ^Pj'-i^tood among the graves, and pointed down to 

was exactl «.Tk' M K^'^'t '^^'■-^'"bling. The Phantom 
was exactly as .t had been, but he dreaded that he saw new 
meanmg m its solemn shape. 

.,;!I^q'^°''^ ^ ^T "^^'^^ ^° ^^""^ «^°"e ^o ^hich you point," 
said Scrooge "answer me one question. Are these the 
shadows of the things that \Vill bJ, or are they shadows of 
the things that May be only ? " ^ snadows of 

stood ^^^ ^^°'^ ^'"'"^^'^ downward to the grave by which it 

" Men's courses will foreshadow certain ends, to which if 
persevered in, they must lead," said Scrooge. "But T he 
courses be departed from, the ends wiU change. Say it i! 
thus with what you show me 1" ^ 

The Spirit was immovable as ever 

lollowing the finger, read upon the stone of the neglected 
grave his own name, Ebenezer Scrooge "^gieciea 

his' W'sf ^^^^ ""^^ ""^^ ^^ "^""^ '^^ ^^'^^^ ^^ ^"'^d' "PO" 

^No,1^p^tr^h' nTno r^"'^ ^° '^"^' ^^' ^^^ ^^^ 

The finger still was there. 

"Spirit!" he cried, tight clutching at its robe, "hear me! 

been bu fo'r "^W ' T' ^ "^" "° '^^ '^^ ^^^ I "^"^h^ve 
pasTall hope ?" ^"'""""- '''^ ^'°" "^ '^^^' ^^ ' ^- 

For the first time the hand appeared to shake, 
f.ii w ^"" «'" ^"^ P^fsued, as down upon the ground he 
fell before it, "your nature intercedes for me, fnd pities 
me. Assure me that I yet may change these shadows^you 
have shown me, by an altered life I" ^ 



A CHRISTMAS CAROI* 77 

The kind hand trembkd. 

" I will honour (Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it 
I all the year. I will live in the Past, the Trescnt, and the 
■ Future. The Spirits of all Three shall strive within me. I 
will not shut out the lessons that they teach. Oh, tell me 
I may sponge away the writing on this stone ! " 

In his agony he caught the spectral hand. It sought to 
free itself; but he was strong in his entreaty, and detained it. 
The Spirit, stronger yet, repulsed him. 

Holding up his hands in one last prayer to have his fate 
reversed, he saw an alteration in the Phanioni's hood and 
dress. It shrunk, collapsed, and dwinUk^d ciown into a bed- 
post. 

STAVE FIVE. 

THE END OF IT. 

Yes I and the bedpost was his own. The bed was Ms own, 
the room was his own. Best and happiest of all, the Time 
before him was his own, to make amends in. 

" I will live in the Past, the Present, and the Future ! " 
Scrooge repeated, as he scrambled out of bed. " The 
Spirits of all Three shall strive within mc. Oh, Jacob 
Marley I Heaven and the Christmas Time be praised for 
this I I say it on my knees, old Jacob — on my knees ! " 

He was so fluttered and so glowing with his good inten- 
tions, that his broken voice would scarcely answer to his 
call. He had been sobbing violently in his conflict with the 
Spirit, and his face was wet with tears. 

" They are not torn down," cried Scrooge, folding one of 
his bed-curtains in his arms ; "they are not torn down, rings 
and all. They are here ; I am here ; the shadows of the 
things that would have been may be dispelled. They will 
be. I know they will ! " 

His hands were busy with his garments all this time — 
turning them inside out, putting them on upside down, 
tearmg them, mislaying them, making them oarties to every 
kind of extravagance. 

" I don't know what to do ! " cried Scrooge, laughing and 



78 A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

crying in the same breath, and making a perfect Laocofln 

I am as happy as an angel, I am as merry as a school-bov 
l^Zff\ZL^T'\"""'- ^ -'rry ChrisSasTo 

ing^L^p^Itt '^d'e'd. """^""■'"'' ^""^ "^^ "°- ''-■^- 
"There's the saucepan that the gruel was in'" cried 

^'Thefe'sT'"/ °\'^""k'- t"^u^°^"^ ^^""^ the firepkce 
.nlij. -tS ^°°\^y ^hich the Ghost of Jacob Marley 

Preset sat^ t? '^" T"^^"^ ^>'" l^^ ^^°^^^^ ^^hristmas 
msent sat! There's the window where I saw the wander- 

h"| Spints! It's all right, it's all true, it all happened^ h", 

Really, for a man who had been out of practice for so 
many years, it was a splendid laugh, a most illustrious lai/h 
The father of a long, long line of brilliant laughs. " 

1 den t know what day of the month it is » " said 

SS" I do ir'' ^"°"u'°" ^°"S I've been among the 
Spirits. I don't know anything. I'm quite a baby. Never 

Halbherer ""• ^'^ ^^^^ ^e a bagy. -Jallol'' Whoop 1 

He was checked in his transports by the churches rin^rm^ 
out the lustiest peals he had'ever Lard. cth/cS 

cirhTotllor?""' ^''■- V' ^""S' ^^"- h^--^;, clang, 
ciasn ! Uh, glorious, glorious ! ° > 6> 

h.f^^'V l"" ^^^ '^'"'^°^' ^^ ^P^"ed it, and put out his 
head. No fog, no mist; clear, bright, jovial, stiVring cold 
cold, piping for the blood to dance ti; golden sunlight- 

"What's to-day?" cried Scrooge, calling downward to a 
about^hfr"'' °'^''' "^' P^'^P-^ ^^^ ^°^^-^d in to look 
;;Eh?" returned the boy, with all his might of wonder. 
;; What's to-day, my fine fellow?" said Scrooge. 

.Jt?^^V. :^P^'^^ '^^.i^y- . "^hy, Christmas Day." 
Its Christmas Day!" said Scrooge to himself «I 
haven't missed it. The Spirits have done it Tu in one 



I 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 79 

night. They can do anything they like. Of course they 
can. Of course they can.— Hallo, my fine fellow ' " 

" Hallo ! " returned the boy. 

"Do you know the poulterer's, in the next street but one. 
at the corner ? " Scrooge inquired. 

" I should hope I did," replied the lad. 

"An intelligent boy!" said Scrooge. "A remarkable 
boy !— Do you know whether they've sold the prize Turkey 
that was hangmg up there? Not the little prize Turkey— 
the big one ? " 

"What, the one as big as me?" returned the boy. 

" What a delightful boy ! " said Scrooge. " It's a pleasure 
to talk to him.— Yes, my buck ! " 

" It's hanging there now," replied the boy. 

" Is it ? " said Scrooge. " Go and buy it." 

" Walk-ER ! " exclaimed the boy. 
_ " No, no," said Scrooge, " I am in earnest. Go and buy 
It, and tell 'em to bring it here, that I may give them the 
direction where to take it. Come back with the man, and 
111 give you a shilling. Come back with him in less than 
five minutes, and I'll give you half a crown ! " 

The boy was off like a shot. He must have had a steady 
hand at a trigger who could have got a shot off half so fast. 

Ill send It to Bob Cratchit's ! " whispered Scrooge 
rubbing his hands, and splitting with a laugh. " He shan't 
know who sends it. It's twice the size of Tiny Tim Toe 
Miller never made such a joke as sending it to Bob's will be ' " 
The hand m which he wrote the address was not a steady 
one, but write it he did, somehow, and went downstairs to 
open the street door, ready for the coming of the poulterer's 
man. As he stood there, waiting his arrival, the knocker 
caught his eye. 

_ " I shall love it as long as I live ! " cried Scrooi^e, patting 
It with his hand. "I scarcely ever looked at ^it before! 
vVhat an honest expression it has in its face ! It's a wonder- 
ful knocker !— Here's the Turkey. Hallo ! Whoop ! How 
are you ? Merry Christmas ! " 

It was a Turkey! He never could have stood upon his 
legs, that bird. He would have snapped 'em short off in a 
mmute, like sticks of sealing-wax. 



; t * 

H5 



'ft 






I ■ 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 



80 

"Why, iVs impossible to carry that to Camden Town." 
said Scrooge. "You must have a cab." 

w,-P\^^Kt^^ with which he said this, and the chuckle 
with which he paid for the Turkey, and the chuckle with 
which he paid for the cab, and the chuckle with which he 
recompensed the boy. were only to be exceeded by the 
chuckle with which he sat down breathless in his chair 
again, and chuckled till he cried. 

Shaving was not an easy task, for his hand continued to 
shake very much ; and shaving requires attention, even when 
you don t dance while you are at it. But if he had cut the 
2nd of his nose off, he would have put a piece of sticking- 
plaster over it, and been quite satisfied. 

He dressed himself "all in his best," and at last got out 
into the streets The people were by this time pouring 
forth, as he had seert them with the Ghost of Christmal 
Present; and walking with his hands behind him, Scrooge 
regarded every one with a delighted smile. He looked so 
irresistibly pleasant, m a word, that three or four good- 
humoured fellows said, " Good - morning, sir! A merr^ 
Christniias to you ! " And Scrooge said often afterwards that 
of all the blithe sounds he had ever heard, those were the 
blithest m his ears. 

He had not gone far, when coming on towards him he be. 
held the portly gentleman who had walked into his counting- 
house the day before and said, "Scrooge and Marley's, I 
believe ? It sent a pang across his heart to think how this 
old gentleman would look upon him when they met • but he 
knew what path lay straight before him, and he took it. 

My dear sir," said Scrooge, quickening his pace, and 
taking the old gentleman by both his hands, ''how do you 
do? I hope you succeeded yesterday. It was very kind of 
you. A merry Christmas to you, sir 1 " 

"Mr. Scrooge?" 

"Yes," said Scrooge. "That is my name, and I fear it 
may not be pleasant to you. Allow me to ask your pardon. 
And will you have the goodness "—here Scrooge whispered 
m his ear. ^ 

" Lord bless me ! " cried the gentleman, as if his breath 
were gone. " My dear Mr. Scrooge, are you serious ? " 



i4PlPratei*^W*^W^^Kf 



1 



j A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 8l 

" If you please," said Scrooge. « Not a farthing less. \ 

great many back-payments are included in it, I assure you. 

Will you do me that favour ? " 

"My dear sir,'' said the other, shaking hands with him. 

1 don t know what to say to such munifi " 

"Don't say anything, please," retorted Scrooge. "Come 
and see me. Will you come and see me ? " 
I " I will ! " cried the old gentleman. And it was clear he 
meant to do it. 

"Thank'ee," said Scrooge. "I am much obliged to you. 
I thank you fifty times. Bless you ! " ° j 

He went to church, and walked about the streets, and 
watched the people hurrying to and fro, and patted children 
on the head, and questioned beggars, -ind looked down into 
the kitchens of houses and up to the windows ; and found 
that ever-thing could yield him pleasure. He had never 
dreamed that any walk— that anything— could give him so 
much happiness. In the afternoon, he turned his steps to- 
wards his nephew's house. 

He passed the door a dozen times before he had the 
courage to go up and knock. But he made a dash, and 
did It. 

• "^^.7^rV ^^^^^^ ^^ ^o'^e, my dear?" said Scrooge to the 
girL—" Nice girl! Very." ^ 

"Yes, sir." 

I' Where is he, my love?" said Scrooge. 

" He's in the dining-room, sir, along with mistress. I'll 
show you upstairs, if you please." 

"Thank'ee. He knows me," said Scrooge, with his nand 
already on the dining-room lock. " I'll go in here, my dear." 

He turned it gently, -nd sidled his face in, round the 
door. They were looking at the table ^which was spread 
out m great array) ; for these young housekeepers are always 
nervous on such points, and like to see that everything is 

" Fred ! " said Scrooge. 

Dear heart alive, how his niece by marriage started! 
bcrooge had forgotten, for the moment, about her sitting in 
the corner with the footstool, or he wouldn't have done it 
on any account 



it ■ 

ii: ' 

IK 



i''"' 



I 1 



82 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 

I Why, bless my soul ! " cried Fred, " who's that ? 



wn/^^ ^i' . ^''"'' H.""^^ Scrooge. I have come to dinnet 
Will you let me m, Fred ? " 

Let him in ! It is a mercy he didn't shake his arm off 
He was at home m five minutes. Nothing could be heartier 
His niece looked just the same. So did Topper when Ae 
came, bo did the plump sister when s/ie came. So did 
every one when f/iey came. Wonderful party, wonderful 
games wonderful unanimity, won-der-ful happiness! 
.,ri tk T^,f f^y ^t the office next mommg. Oh, he was 
early there ! If he could only be there first, and caich Bob 

hSrt "'^"''"^ ■' '^^^ "^^ ^^^ ^^'"^ ^^ ^^^ '^^^ ^^'' 

And he did it ; yes, he did ! The clock struck nine. No 
Bob. A quarter past No Bob. He was full eighteen 
minutes and a half behind his time. Scrooge sat with his 
door wide open, that he might see him come into the Tank. 
His hat was oflF before he opened the door; his comforter 

T^n .c vk""^ °" ^'' ''°°^ ^" ^ J^^y' ^"^i"g away with his 
^utf ,! f, ^^'■^ ^'■y'"^ ^° overtake nine o'clock. 

Hallo ! growled Scrooge in his accustomed voice, as 
near as he could feign it. « What do you mean by coming 
here at this time of day ? " ' * 

tim'e/' ^"^ ^^"^ '°'''^' "'''" """'^ ^°''' " ^ ""^ ^^^^^"d "^y 

qJI^v ^'■^^"/^P^ated Scrooge. "Yes; I think you are. 
Step this way, if you please." /cue. 

t^r^'" i?"^^u°T?''t a year, sir," pleaded Bob, appearing from 
the Tank. » It shall not be repeated. I was making rather 
merry yesterday, sir." ^ 

"Now, I'll tell you what, my friend," said Scrooge. «I am 
not going to .stand this sort of thing any longer. And there- 
fore he continued, leaping from his stool, and giving Bob 
such a dig in the waistcoat that he staggered back into the 
Tank ^again-- and therefore I am about to raise your 

Bob trembled, and got a little nearer to the ruler He 
nad a momentary idea of knocking Scrooge down with it 
noidrng him, and calling to the people in the court for helo 
and a strait-waistcoat ^ 



i 



A CHRISTMAS CAROL. 83 

"A merry Christmas, Bob ! » said Scrooge, with an earnest- 
ness that could not be mistaken, as he clapped him on the 
back. "A merrier Christmas, Bob, my good fellow, than I 
have given you for many a year ! I'll raise your salary, and 
endeavour to assist your struggling family, and we will discuss 
your affairs this very afternoon, over a Christmas bowl of 
smoking bishop, Bob ! Make up the fires, and buy another 
coaUcuttle before you dot another i. Bob Cratchit ! " 

SoDoge was better than his word. He did it all and 
infmkeiy more; and to Tiny Tim, who did not die, he was 
a second father. He became as good a friend, as good a 
master, and as good a man, as the good old city knew, or 
any other good old city, town, or borough, in the good old 
worid, Tome people laughed to see the alteration in him. 
But he let thenr laugh, and little heeded them ; for he was 
wise enough to Know that nothing ever happened on this 
globe, for good, at which some people did not have their fill 
of laughter m the outset ; and knowing that such as these 
would be blind anyway, he thought it quite as well that they 
should wrinkle up their eyes in gnns, as have the malady in 
less attractive forms. His own heart laughed, and that was 
quite enough for him. 

He had no further intercourse with Spirits, but lived upon 
the Total Abstinence Principle- ever afterwards ; and it was 
always said of him that he knew how to keep Christmas well, 
if any man alive possessed the knowledge. May that be truly 
saiQ of us, and all of us ! And so, as Tiny Tim observed, 
God Bless Us, Every One ! 






I'-' 



THE END OF "a CHRISTMAS CAROL.' 



4 



> 



If 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 
A Fairy Tale of Home 



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THE CRICKET ON THE 
HEARTH. 



..-V 



-♦♦- 



CHIRP THE FIRST. 

THE Kettle began it ! Don't tell me what Mrs. Peery- 
bingle said. I know better. Mrs. Peerybingle may 
leave it on record to the end of time that she couldn't say 
which of them began it ; but I say the Kettle did. I ought 
to know, I hope. The Kettle began it, full five minutes by 
the little waxy-faced Dutch clock in the corner before the 
Cricket uttered a chirp. 

As if the clock hadn't finished striking, and the convulsive 
little Haymaker at the top of it, jerking away right and left 
with a scythe in front of a Moorish Palace, hadn't mrA/ed 
down half an acre of imaginary grass before the Cricket 
joined in at all ! 

Why, I am not naturally positive. Every one knows that 
I wouldn't set my own opinion against the opinion of Mrs. 
Peerybingle, unless I were quite sure, on any account what- 
ever. Nothing should induce me. But this is a question of 
fact. And the fact is, that the Kettle began it, at least five 
minutes before the Cricket gave any sign of being in exist- 
ence. Contradict me — and I'll say ten. 

Let me narrate exactly how it happened. I should have 
proceeded to do so, in my very first word, but for this plain 
consideration — if I am to tell a story, I must begin at the 
beginning ; and how is it possible to begin at the beginningj 
without beginning at the Kettle ? 



I ; 



w 



THE CRICKET ON THE 



HEARTH. 

It appeared as if there were a sort of match, or trial of 

C,kkerA'^H'lh""''"T"f>'"«^" 'h^ Keule and the 
Mr! p K^'? " *^*' '='' '° '■- »"d ho* it came about 
Mrs. Peerybmgle going out into the raw twilieht anrt 

■ttrb^^ 'rXrir^^it* ':i\f r^'^^oZi 

a?^'irefb°:t%rV^ 

?eervStf"'" "J^' includ«l-had laid hold o7m?s 

we rTthe^Ll, J^r^ ""1 "T •'P'*"'"* ''" '^S^- And ,^en 
Tn/ti P f ""'^^"^ (mth reason too) tpon our lees 

JL's|'aS^d%Vu;;^^"rrXt .,^ - .-^n^e 
all, the hd, resisting Mrs. Peeiybingle's fingers rJT( m 

^^ botU orr KeTti^.'^'iti'thXir^r r^^ 
f 5 ^t 7^ X ^L^.eT3t;rhat'££? 

n \i ^°^^'"g s^'all induce me » » 

her cLtby hK^IS ^^^. '^^^°^\^' good-humour, dusted 
before thp^TfLnf ^ ^l ^^^'"'^ ^^^'^ «^^^er, and sit down 
^r^ni f n f ^!'- ^^"gh'^^g- Meantime, the jolly blaze ud 

ITtheX'of S^fZ^^^^^^^ ^^^ h/tleUymakl 

•i lae top ot the Dutch clock, until one might have thought 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 89 

he stood stock still before the Moorish Palace, and nothing 
was m motion but the flame. 

He was on the move, however and had his spasms, two 
to the second, all right and regular. But his sufferings when 
the clock was going to strike were frightful to behold ; and 
when a Cuckoo looked out of a trap-door in the Palace, and 
gave note six times, it shook him each time like a spectral 
voice — or like a something wiry plucking at his legs. 

It was not until a violent commotion and a whirring noise 
among the weights and ropes below him had quite subsided, 
that this terrified Haymaker became himself again. Nor was 
j he startled without reason ; for these rattling, bony skeletons 
of clocks are very disconcerting m their operation, and I 
wonder very much how any set of men, but most of all how 
Dutchmen, can have had a liking to invent them. For there 
is a popular belief that Dutchmen love broad cases and much 
clothing for their own lower selves ; and they might know 
better than to leave their clocks so very lank and unprotected, 
sarely. 

Now it was, you observe, that the Kettle began to spend 
tl. - evening. Now it was, that the Kettle, growing mellow 
and musical, began to have irrepressible gurglings in its 
throat, and to indulge in short vocal snorts, which it checked 
in the bud, as if it hadn't quite made up its mind yet to be 
good company. Now it was, that after two or three such 
vain attempts to stifle its convivial sentiments, it threw off" all 
nioroseness, all reserve, and burst into a stream of song so 
cozy and hilarious, as never maudlin nightingale yet formed 
the least idea of. 

So plain, too ! Bless you, you might have understood it 
like a book— better than some books you and I could name 
perhaps. With its warm breath gushing forth in a light cloud 
w-hich merrily and gracefully ascended a few feet, then hung 
about the chimney-corner as its own domestic Heaven, it 
trolled its song with that strong energy of cheerfulness, that 
its iron body hummed and stirred upon the fire ; and the Hd 
Itself, the recently rebellious lid— such is the influence of a 
bright example— performed a sort of jig, and clattered like a 
deaf and dumb young cymbal that had never known the use 
of its twin brother. 






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90 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 






That this song of the Kettle's was a song of invitation and 
welcome to somebody out of doors— to somebody at that 
moment commg on towards the snug small home and the 
crisp fire— there is no doubt whatever. Mrs. Peerybingle 
knew It perfectly, as she sat musing before the hearth. It's 
a dark night, sang the Kettle, and the rotten leaves are lyinc 
by the way ; and above, all is mist and darkness, and below, 
all IS mire and clay ; and there's only one relief in all the sad 
and murky air; and I don't know that it is one, for it's 
nothing but a glare, of deep and angry crimson, where the 
sun and wmd together set a brand upon the clouds for being 

fn"nL^/n'"f^ r^??' ^"^ ^^^ ^^^^«t «Pe" country is I 
long dull streak of black ; and there's hoar-frost on the 
finger-post, and thaw upon the track ; and the ice it isn't 
Tn^fK- ^" u ''^'^' 'f '^ ^'^^ ' ^"^ you couldn't say that 
comb"!-^ '' °"^ ^"^ ^^' ^"' ^^'" ^°™'"& ^^'"^"g' 

rhfrnl^rK-'^ ^"VJ!"^' *^^ ^"^^^^ ^^° chime in! with a 
Chirrup, Chirrup, Chirrup of sucli magnitude, by way of 
Chorus; with a voice so astoundingly disproportionate to its 

T^ ^ .T-?T^ "^^ ^^^ ^^"^^ <^^^« •' you couldn't see 
It !), that if it had then and there burst itself like an over- 
charged gun-if it had fallen a victim on the spot, and 
chirruped its httle body into fifty pieces-it would have 
seemed a natural and inevitable consequence, for which it 
had expressly laboured. 

The Kettle had had the last of its solo performance. It 
wS with undiminished ardour; but the Cricket took 
first fiddle, and kept it. Good Heaven, how it chirped ! Its 

^P.l.?f ^;P-T"? "^^t!"^^ resounded through the house, and 
seemed to twinkle m the outer darkness like a Star. There 
was an indescribable little trill and trenble in it. at its 
budest which suggested its being carried off its legs, and ,. 
rnade to leap again, by its own intense enthusiasm Yet | 
Hiey went very well together, the Cricket and the Kettle. ^' 
Ihe burden of the song was still the same; and louder 
louder, louder still, they sang it in their emulation. ' 

.nmS-K- ^f ^t^''-^"^'-^°'" ^^'' «h« ^as, and young, though 
m^fiV K^ of what IS called the dumpling shape; but I don't 
myself object to that-lighted a candle ; glanced at the nTy 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 91 

maker on the top of the clock, who was getting in a pretty 
average crop of minutes; and looked out of the window, 
where she saw nothing, owing to the darkness, but her own 
face imaged in the glass. And my opinion is (and so would 
yours have been), that she might have looked a long way, 
and seen nothing half so agreeable. When she came back, 
and sat down in her former seat, the Cricket and the Kettle 
were still keeping it up, with a perfect fury of competition— 
the Kettle's weak side clearly being that he didn't know 
when he was beat. 

There was all the excitement of a race about it. Chirp, 
chirp, chirp ! Cricket a mile ahead. Hum, hum, hum — m — m ! 
Kettle making play in the distance, like a great top. Chirp, 
chirp, chirp! Cricket round the comer. Hum, hum, 
hum — m — m ! Kettle sticking to him in his own way ; no 
idea of giving in. Chirp, chirp, chirp ! Cricket fresher than 
ever. Hum, hum, hum— m — m ! Kettle slow and steady. 
Chirp, chirp, chirp I Cricket going in to finish him. Hum, 
hum, hum— m— m! Kettle not to be finished. Until at 
last they got so jumbled together, in the hurry-skurry, helter- 
skelter, of the match, that whether the Kettle chirped and 
the Cricket hummed, or the Cricket chirped and the Kettle 
hummed, or they both chirped and both hummed, it would 
have taken a clearer head than yours or mine to have decided 
with anything like certainty. But of this there is no doubt : 
that the Kettle and the Cricket, at one and the same moment, 
and by some power of amalgamation best known to them- 
selves, sent, each, his fireside song of comfort streaming into 
a ray of the candle that shone out through the window, and 
a long way down the lane. And this light, bursting on a 
certain person who, on the instant, approached towards it 
through the gloom, expressed the whole thing to him, lit- 
erally in a twmkling, and cried, " Welcome home, old fellow ! 
Welcome home, my Boy ! " 

This end attained, the Kettle, being dead beat, boiled over, 
and was taken off the fire. Mrs. Peerybingle then went run- 
ning to the door, where, what with the wheels of a cart, the 
tramp of a horse, the voice of a man, the tearing in and out of 
an excited dog, and the surprising and mysterious appearance 
of a £atK ttere was soon the very ^'\^^at's-his-naIlle to pay. 






i il 



92 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



il 



^5V^^ R^^yj^^^ fr°P. or how Mrs. Peerybingle got 

5, / don't know. But a live 



bIv 1 '" ^^^ ^f^ °^ ^"^«' ^ «°"^ *now. But a live 
tr?.r^hl '^ ''^' '"? ^'•'- Peerybingle's arms; and a pre^ 
tolerable amount of pride she seemed to have n it. wheH 
was drawn gently to the fire, by a sturdy figure o7 a man 
aTnt'^"''^^ """"^ ^^^^' '^^ herselff XhadtosToop 

lil ?oir^ "^""lu 'i ^^' ^^'' ^"* «h« ^^ worth the troubg" 
Six foot SIX. with the lumbago, might have done it. 

Oh, goodness, John!" said Mrs. P. "What a «;tatp 
you're m with the weather ! " ^'^ 

th.-S® "^^t something the worse for it, undeniably. The 
thick mist hung m clots upon his eyelashes like^andi^d 

^1' ^"^ ^"'^""'^ '^^ ^°g^d fire VtSr,tLre were 
rainbows in his vf ry whiskers 

unro^J7' ^°!! «^,^,I^ot," John made answer, slowly, as he 
Z^d^ At r^-T ^^T ^'' *^^°^^' ^"d warme?his 
wonder." ' ^'"' '"""'^^ ^""^"^^'- ^^^'^er. So, no 

J^^TT^^r"" "T^"^?"'' ^^" '"^ D°^ John. I don't like it " 

^»^t^^^.:^tttSc:;^i^^^ 

for fear I should spoil it; but I was very^near a^oke^ I 
don't know as ever I was nearer." J- ^"^ a JoKe. i 

He was often near to something or other very clever hv 
his own account, this lumbering, slow, honesr^ohn '^i{ 
John so heavy but so light of sp&t; so^ough l^n the su 
facj, but so gentle at the core ; so dull wfthout so au^ck 
wi hm ; so stolid, but so good I b Mother Nature, givfthy 
children the true Poetry of Heart that hid itself TnthL poor 
Carrier's breast-he was but a Carrier, by the way-and w. 

Sose and^li"''. ''k?" ^1'^"« ^-se,' anV leading l^^e' of 
Prose , and bear to bless Thee for their company i i 

BahvTif ^"' '° '^^ ^°^' ^^^ h^r little figure and her 
?f^^ ? her arms-a very doll of a Baby-^gkncLwith a 

StSeVi°."^'f^"''\^^ '^^ fire,and'incSgLrtli 
cate httle head just enough on one side to let it rest in tm 



[ THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 95 

odd, half-natural, half-affected, wholly nestling and agreeable 
manner, on the great rugged figure of the Carrier. It was 
pleasant to see him, with his tender awkwardness, endeav- 
ouring to adapt his rude support to her slight need, and 
make his burly middle-age a leaning-staff not inappropriate 
to her blooming youth. It was pleasant to observe how Tilly 
Slowboy, waiting in the background for the Baby, took 
special cognizance (though in her eariiest teens) of this 
grouping and stood with her mouth and eyes wide open, 
and her head thrust forward, taking It in as if it were air. 
Nor was it less agreeable to observe how John the Carrier 
reference being made by Dot to the aforesaid Baby, checked 
his hand when on the point of touching the infant, as if he 
thought he might crack it; and bending down, surveyed it 
from a safe distance, with a kind of puzzled pride— such as 
an amiable mastiff might be supposed to show, if he found 
himself, one day, the father of a young canary. 

"Ain't he beautiful, John? Don't he look precious in his 
sleep ? " *^ 

"Very precious," said John. "Ver much so. He 
generally is asleep, ain't he ? " 

" Lor, John ! Good gracious, no ! " 

"Oh," said John, pondering. "I thought his eyes was 
generally shut. Halloa!" / «:. 

" Goodness, John, how you startle one ! " 

" It ain't right for him to tu'.-n 'em up in that way ! " said 
the astonished Carrier, "is it? See how he's winking with 
both of 'em at once ! And look at his mouth ! why, he's 
gasping like a gold and silver fish ! " 

" You don't deserve to be a father, you don't," said Dot, 
with all the dignity of an experienced matron. "But how 
should you kno- hat little complaints children are troubled 
with, John ! \ oa wouldn't so much as know their names 
you stupid fellow." And when she had turned the Baby 
over on her left arm, and had slapped its back as a restora- 
tive, she pinched her husband's ear, laughing. 

" No," said John, pulling off his outer coat. " It*s very true, 
pot. I don't know much about it. I only know that I've 
been fighting pretty stiffly with the wind to-night. It's been 
blowing north-east, straight into the cart, the whole way home," 



" 7 

rn 






? i 



il 



94 THE CRICKET ON THE HEAR PR 

£^l?^r'''l^V ^T^' ""^'■^' Take the pTecious 
.^,M ^' !^' ''•^"^- [ ?^^^ "^y^^^^ °f ^^"'e use. Bless it, I 
could smotr.er it with kissmg it, I could ! Hie then, good 

Tohn «n "fV), °''?;i ^^ ' ''^y .^"' "^^ "^k^ the tek first, 
John, and then I'll help you with the parcels, like a busv 

?^'n n- J "^"'^ '^'-^ ^;"^^ '-^"^ ^" th^ '^st of it, you know. 
ien'ofctoTjorP^" '""^^'^^^ ^^^ little/ when you 
" Not to quite know it," John returned. " I was very near 
It once. But I should only have spoilt it, I dare say." 

Ha, ha! laughed Dot. She had the blithest little 
laugh you ever heard. « What a dear old darling of a dunce 
you are, John, to be sure ! " 

fK^^i^V^" disputing this position, John went out to see 

J^L \ ?y "^u^i^^ ^^"t^"""' ^^'^h h^<^ been dancing to 
and fro before the door and window, like a Will of the Wiso 
^ook due care of the horse; who was fatter than you would 
quite beheve, if I gave you his measure, and so old that his 

that htf Jf °'- '" *^^ T''^' °^ ^^'"^"^ty- ^o^e'-. feeling 
that his attentions were due to the family in general, and 

must be impartially distributed, dashed in and out with 

bewildering inconstancy-now describing a circle of short 

barks round the horse, where he was being rubbed down at 

mS.r? 2°J^ "^'^ (^\"^"S to make savage rushes at his 
mistress, and facetiously bringing himself to sudden stops : 
now eliciting a shriek from Tilly Slowboy, in the low nursing- 
chair near the fire, by the unexpected application of his 
,wirL?°'M° ^^^••/^^""tenance; now exhibiting an obtrusive 
interest m the Baby; now going round and round upon the 
hearth, and lying down as if he had established himself for 
! Sf^^' »ow getting up again, and taking that nothing of 
a fag-end of a tail of his out into the weather, as if he had 
just remembered an appointment, and was off, at a round 
trot, to keep it. 

fi^I^^^'k • ,Pf^'s t^e teapot, ready on the hob!" said 

?ln/^h "'' ^.v!""'^ 1? ^ ^^^^^ ^' P'^y ^' ^^^P^"g house. 
And there s the cold knuck'j of ham; and there's the 

1 .u'"V^'J*^ '^^""^^ -'''^ ^''""y ^oaf' and all! Here's a 
clothes-basket for the small parcels, John, if you've got 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 95 

any there— where are you, John? Don't let the dear child 
fall under the grate, Tilly, whatever you do ! " 

It may be noted of Miss Slowboy, in spite of her rejecting 
the caution with some vivacity, that she had a rare and sur- 
prising talent for getting this Baby into difficulties, and had 
several times imperilled its short life, in a quiet way peculiarly 
her own. She was of a spare and straight shape, this young 
lady, insomuch that her garments appeared to be in constant 
danger of sliding off those sharp pegs, her shoulders, on 
which they were loosely hung. Her costume was remark- 
able for the partial development on all possible occasions of 
some flannel vestment of a singular structure ; also for afford- 
ing glimpses, in the region of the back, of a corset, or pair of 
stays, in colour a dead-green. Being always in a state of 
gaping admiration at everything, and absorbed, besides, in 
the perpetual contemplation of her mistress's perfections and 
the Baby's, Miss Slowboy, in her little errors of judgment, 
may be said to have done equal honour to her head and to 
her heart ; and though these did less honour to the Baby's 
head, which they were the occasional means of bringing into 
contact with deal doors, dressers, stair-rails, bedposts, and 
other foreign substances, still they were the honest results of 
Tilly Slowboy's constant astonishment at finding herself so 
kindly treated, and installed in such a comfortable home. 
For the maternal and paternal Slowboy were alike unknown 
to Fame, and Tilly had been bred by public charity, a Found- 
Imgj which word, though only differing from Fondling by 
one vowel's length, is very different in meaning, and ex- 
presses quite another thing. 

To have seen little Mrs. Peerybingle come back with her 
husband, tugging at the clothes-basket, and making the most 
strenuous exertions to do nothing at all (for he carried it), 
would have amused ^ ou, almost as much as it amused him. 
It may have entertained the Cricket too, for anything I know; 
but, certainly, it now began to chirp again, vehemently. 

" Heyday ' " said John, in his slow way. " It's monier 
than ever to-night, I think." 

" And it's sure to bring us good fortune, John ! It always 
has done so. To have a Cricket on the Hearth is the 
luckiest thing in all the world ! " 



i: 



t 



96 THE CRICKET ON THE IIEAUTH. 

_ John looked at her as if he had very nearly got the thought 
into his head that she was his Cricket in chief, and he quite 
agreed with her. But it was probably one of his narrow 
escapes, for he said nothing. 

"The first time I heard its cheerful little note, John, was 
on that night when you brought me home — when you 
brought me to my new home here, its little mistress 
JNearly a year ago. You recollect, John ? " 

Oh, yes ; John remembered. I should think so ! 

"Its chirp was such a welcome to me ! It seemed so full 
of promise and encouragement. It seemed to say, you would 
be kind and gentle with me, and would not expect (I had a 
fear of that, John, then) to find an old head on the shoulders 
of your foolish little wife." 

John thoughtfully patted one of the shoulders, and then 
the head, as though he would have said. No, no ; he had 
had no such expectation ; he had been quite content to take 
them as they were. And really he had reason. They were 
very comely. ' 

" It spoke the truth, John, when it seemed to say so • for 
you have ever been, I am sure, the best, the most considerate 
the most affectionate of husbands to me. This has bee i a 
happy home, John ; and I love the Cricket for its sake ' " 

!.* Why, so do I then," said the Carrier. " So do I, Dot " 
I love It for the many time? I have heard it, and the 
many thoughts its harmless music has given me. Sometimes, 
m the twilight, when I have felt a little solitary and down- 
hearted John-before Baby was here, to keep me company 
and make the house gay; when I have thought how lonely 
you would be if I should die; how lonely I should be, if I 
could know that you had lost me, dear ; its Chirp, Chirp, 
Chirp upon the hearth, has seemed to tell me of another 
little voice, so sweet, so very dear to me, before whose 
coming sound my trouble vanished like a dream. And 
when I used to fear— I did fear once, John; I was very 
young, you know— that ours might prove to be an ill-assorted 
marriage (I being such a child, md you more like my 
guardian than my husband), and that you might lOt, how. 
ever hard you tried, be able to learn to love me, as you 
hoped and prayed you might, its Chirp, Chirp, Chiip, has 



I 



I 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 97 

cheered me up again, and filled me with new trust and con- 
fidence. I was thinking of these tilings to-right, dear, when 
I sat expecting you ; and I love the Crickv^t for their sake ' " 
"And so do I," repeated John. "But, Dot, / hope and 
pray that I might learn to love you ? How you talk ! I 
had learned that, long before I brought you here to be the 
Cricket's little mistress, Dot ! " 

She laid her hand an instant on his arm, and looked up 
at him with an agitated face, us if she would have told him 
something. Next moment she was down upon her knees 
before the basket, speaking in a sprightly voice, and busy 
with the parcels. 

" There are not many of them to-night, John ; but I saw 
some goods behind the cart just now, and though they give 
more trouble, perhaps, still they pay as well ; so we have no 
reason to grumble, have we? Besides, you have been de- 
livering, I dare say, as you came along ? " 

Oh, yes, John said. A good many. 

" Why, what's this round box ? Heart alive, John, it's a 
wedding-cake ! " 

" I^ave a woman alone to find out that," said John ad- 
miringly. " Now, a man would never have thought of it ; 
whereas, it's my belief that if you was to pack a wedding-cake 
up in a tea-chest, or a turn-up bedstead, or a pickled salmon 
keg, or any unlikely thing, a woman would be sure to find it 
out directly. Yes ; I called for it at the pastry-cook's." 

"And it weighs I don't know what — whole hundred- 
weights ! " cried Dot, making a great demonstration of try- 
ing to lift It. " Whose is it, John ? Where is it going?" 

" Read the writing on the other side," said John. 

" Why, John ! My goodness, John ! " 

II Ah ! who'd have thought it ! " John returned. 

"You never mean to say," pursued Dot, sitting on th* 
floor and shaking her head at him, "that it's Gruff and 
^ackleton the toymaker ! " 

John nodded. 

Mrs. Peerybingle nodded also, fifty times at least. Not in 
assent — in dumb and pitying amazement; screwing up her 
lips the while, with all their little force (they were never made 
for screwmg up, I am clear of that), and looking the good 



t 



f !l 



98 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Carrier through and through in her ahstraction Mi.s ^low 

nouns changed into the plural number inqu^edatrnd 
that young creature Wtq ;♦ r^,,(rn j ^n . aioud 
makers thin, anT Would it ca^uf P^a" ^''l^'"?"' •h'^ '"y 

^s^HrttrhotrH^^^^^^^^ 

of trZhap^lslT "'"^"1°^ ''''' °' "-'V """King 

irai?«- -^^^^^^ 

wunuer. replied John good-humouredlv as hp Hr^J . 

to eatin, ^t' Tk"' ;'''!'^' ""-^ ^'=8''" -' 'he cow ham "as 
to eatmg I eat but little ; but that little I enjoy Dot " 

box slow I'y hom^ 2uZr)%r"'f' P''*'"^ "'^ <='''=e- 
though her eyes wereTalt dm/r,' "'"'"J °™^ '°°''^<'' 

changed ^' ""^"""^ ^"'- '^^ "^"^^^' ^^'^^^ quite 



i 



THE CRICK FT ON THE HEARTH. 99 

to the practical illustration of one part of his favourite senti- 
certainly enjoying what he ate, if it couldn't be ad- 



"So these are all the parcels, 



ment- 

mitted that he ote but little. 

ar.i they, John?" 

"That's all," said John. "Why— no -I"- laying down 

ins knife and fork, and taking a long breath—" I declare 

iVe clean forgotten the old gentleman ! " 

" The old gentleman ? " 

" In the cart," said John. " I e was asleep, among the 
straw, the last time 1 saw him. I've \ery m.arly remembered 
him twice since I came in; but he went out of my head 
again. Halloa ! Yahip there ! rouse up I That's mv 
hearty ! " ^ 

John said these latter words outside the door, whither he 
had hurried with the candle in his hand. 

Miss Slowboy, conscious of some mysterious reference to 
The Old Gentleman, and connecting in h r mystified imagi- 
nation certain associati ns of a religious nature with the 
phrase, was so disturbed, that hastily ris.ng from the bw 
chair by the fire to seek protection near the skirts of her 
mistress, and coming into contact as she crossed the doorway 
with an ancient Stranger, she instinctively made a charge or 
butt at him with the only offensive instrument within her 
reach. This instrument happening to be the Baby, great 
commotion and alarm ensued, wi.^ch the sagacity of Loxer 
rather tended to increase ; for that good ciog, more thought- 

' than his master, had, it seemed, been watching the old 
gentleman in his sleep lest he should walk off with a few 
young poplar trees that were tied up behind the cart j and 
he still attended on him very closely, worrying his gaiters, in 
fact, and making dead sets at rne buttons. 

" You'n; such an undeniable good sleeper, Sir," said John 
when trarquillity was restored— in the meantime the old 
gentleman had stood, bare-headed and motionless, in the 
centre of the room— "that I have half a mind to ask you 
where the other six are ; only hat would be a joke, and I 
know I should spoil it. Very near though," murmured the 
Carrier, with a chuckle ; " very near ! 

The Stranger— who had long white hair ; good features 
singularly bold and well defined for an old m^.r ; and dark 



r ' 
1.' 



lUO THE CRICKKT ON TIIK HEARTH. 

bright, penetrating eyes— looked round with r smile, and 

saluted ^he Carriers wife by gravely inclining his head. 

His garb was very (juaint and old— a long, long way behind 
the time. Its hue was brown all over. In his hand he held 
a great brown club or walking-stick ; and striking this upon 
the floor, it fell asunder, and became a tiair. On which he 
sat down, quite composedly. 

"There!" said the Carrier, turning to his wife. 'That's 
the way I found him, sitting by the roadside ! upright as a 
milestone, and almost as deaf." 
"Sitting in the open air, John ?" 

"In the open air," replied the Carrier, "just at dusk. 
'Carnage Paid,' he said, and gave me eighteenpence. Then 
he got in. And there he is." 
" He's going, John, I think ! " 
Not at all. He was only going to speak. 
"If you please, I was to be left till called for," ^riid the 
Stranger mildly. " Don't mind me." 

With that, he took a pair of spectacles from one of his 
large pockets, and a book from another, r.nd leisurely began 
to read— making no more of Boxer than if he had been a 
house lamb ! 

The Carrier and his wife exchanged a look of perplexity. 
The Stranger raised his head, and glancing from the latter to 
the former, said, — 

"Your daughter, mv good friend?" 

" Wife," returned John. 

" Niece ? " said the Stranger. 

"Wife," roared John. 

" Indeed ? " observed the Stranger. " Surely ? Very 
young ! " / -/ 

He quietly turned over, and resumed his reading. But 
before he could have read two lines, he again interrupted 
tumself to say, — 

"Baby yours?" 

John gave him a gigantic nod, equivalent to an answer in 
the^ affirmative, delivered through a speaking-trumpet 

**Bo-o-oy ! " roared John. 
•* Also very young, eh ? " 



I 



lOI 
months and 



TiTE ci<ic;;i:t on tmf hearth 

Mrs. Pecrybingle instantly struck in : " Two 
three da-ays ! Vaccinated just six weeks ago-o ! 'look vt ry 
fme-lyl Considered by the d(.)Clor a remarkably beautiful 
chi-ild ! Ktjual to the general run of children at five months 
cold! Takes notice in a way (juite \>vin-der-ful ! May 
seem impossible to yoi', but feels hi' '. gs al-ready ! " 

Here the breathless little motlu r, who had been shrieking 
these short sentences into the old man's ear ur *'l her prtity 
face was crimsoned, held up the J'abv before him as a 
stubborn and triumphant fact j while Tilly Slowbov, with a 
melodious cry of Ketclu r, K etcher - which ^- unded like some 
unknown words, adapted to a popular ;>neezt— performed 
some cow-like gamb(>ls round that all unconscious Innocent. 

"Hark! He's called lor, sure enough," said John. 
"There's somebody at the door. Open it, 1 illy." 

Before she could reach it, ho. /ever, it was opened from 
without ; beiT^g a primitive sort of door, with a latch, that 
any one could lift if he chose -and a good many people did 
choose, I can teli you, for all kinds of neighbours liked to 
have a cheerful word or two with the Carrier, though he was 
no great talker for the matter of that. Iking opened, it gave 
admission to a little, meagre, thoughtful, dingy-faced man, 
who seemed to have made himself a greatcoat from the sack- 
cloth cjvering of some c'd box ; for when he turned to s' ut 
the door, and keep the weather out, he disclosed upon i;i 
back of that garment the inscription G &: T in large bl. .x 
capitals. Also the word GLASS in bold characters. 

" Good evening, John ! " said the little man. " Good even- 
ing, Mum. Good evening, Tilly. Good evening. Unbeknown ! 
How's Baby, Mum ? Boxer's pretty well, I hope ? " 

"All thriving, Caleb," replied Dot. " I am sure you need 
only look at the dear child, for one, to know that." 

" And I'm sure I need only look at vou for another," said 
Caleb. 

He didn't look at her though ; for he had a wandering and 
thoughtful eye which seemed to be always projecting itself 
into some other time and place, no matter what he said— a 
description which will equally apply to his voice. 

"Or at John for another," said Caleb. "Or at Tilly, as 
far as that goes. Or certainly at Boxer." 



"J 

I 



!t. 



102 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"Busy just now, Caleb?" asked the Carrier. 

air nY/'nf^"^''^"' John," he returned, with the distraught 
air of a man who was casting about for the Philosophlr's 

Tn^V'^TI ^'"''^ "^"^h ^°- There's rather a run 
en Noahs Arks at present I could have wished to im" 
prove upon the Family, but I don't see how it's to be done 
at he price. It would be a satisfaction to one's mind to 

r4eV' FHer-."' T "'^"^ ^"^ «^-«' and whTh w2 
Wives. Phes am't on that scale neither, as compared with 

elephants, you know! Ah ! well ! Hav^ you goHnytC 
m the parcel line for me, John?" *"y"iing 

takln^ff^'jifj" r' ^t^^""^ ^"^° ^ P^^^^t °^ the coat he had 
[Taper, :U" W-fol °"' ^^"^""^ ''^'^'^^' ^ ^^ -^ 
" There it is ! " he said, adjusting it with great care. « Not 
so much as a leaf damaged. Full of Buds'" 

"Dear' Caleb ''^STh^' r ^' '°°^ '^' ^"^ ^^^^^^^^ ^im. 
season!" ^^'"^'- "^^"^^ ^^^^ ^^ ^^"s 

it coft'^?etut"pd !h'V./' "^°"^^ ^" ^^^^P ^° "^e' whatever 
« A 'c i^K ^^^ '."l^ "'^"- " Anything else, John ? » 

fK / • ^^ Plummer,'" said the little man, spelling out 

"Oh! To be sure!" said Caleb. "It's all right With 
cash in^fd^f^ that's mine. It might have t'n w th 
S'l ved Tohn^ ,^^^J"J.^" ^"^^^" South Americas 

Vnn ^ l ^°'' '°''^^ h'"^ ^^J^e a son, didn't you:' 

You needn't say you did. 7 know, of course 'Caleb 
Plummer. With care.' Yes, yes, it's all right. It's a box 
of dolls eyes for my daughter's work. I wish i wi her 
own sight m a box, John." ^^ 

-Thlt>' ^^' -5' u"^",^ ^^ •' " ^"^^ the Carrier. 

To tlLT^thS srsi^ull^tvTsee^L^^^^^^^^^^^ 

^^J^^^^t^^^-^^ Th^i'^wh-ttTutt 



II 



THE CRICKET ON THE 
m damage you," said John, "if 



HEARTH, 
lu inquire. 



103 

Very near?" ° ''"' "' ' " ^"" "'^""^- ^°t' 

^^ "Well ! it's like you to say so," observed the little man. 
It s your kmd way. Let me see. I think that's all." 

1 thmk not," said the Carrier. "Try again " 
"Something for our Governor, eh?" said* Caleb, after 
pondenng a little while. "To be sure. That's what I 
came for; but my head's so running on them Arks and 
thmgs ! He hasn't been here, has he ? " 

"Not he," returned the Carrier. "He's too busy 
courtmg." y 

" Hes coming round though," said Caleb ; " for he told 
me to keep on the near side of the road going home, and it 
was ten to one he'd take me up. I had better go, by-the- 
bye.-You couldn't have the goodness to let m^ pinch 
Boxer s tail. Mum, for half a moment, could you ? " 

" Why, Caleb, what a question ! " 

"Oh never mind. Mum," said the little man. "He 
mightn t like it perhaps. There's a small order just come 
in for barking dogs and I should wish to go as close to 
Mum" ^^ sixpence. That's all. Never mind, 

It happened opportunely that Boxer, without receiving the 
proposed stimulus, began to bark with great zeal. But as 
tins implied the approach of some new visitor, Caleb, post- 
poning his study from the life to a more convenient season, 
shouldered the round box, and took a hurried leave He 
might have spared himself the trouble, for he met the visitor 
upon the threshold. 

"Oh! you are here, are you? Wait a bit. I'll take you 
home. John Peer) oingle, my service to you. More of mv 
service to your pretty wife. Handsomer every day ! Better 
too, If possible ! And younger," mused the speaker in a low 
voice ; « that's the Devil of it." 

ToW?°"l^ ^^ astonished at your paying compliments, Mr. 
Tackleton," said Dot, not with the best grace in the world, 
but for your condition." ^ 

"^ You know all about it then ? " 
•; I have got myself to believe it, somehow," said Dot. 
After a hard struggle, I suppose?" 

4« 



1 1 



<. 



rn 

ft 



i ■ 



r- 



104 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 

"Very." " ^ 

GrIff1!fd°Tap\'l 7°^ ^''"l^""'' P^^"y g^"^^^"y known as 
Urutt and lackleton-for that was the firm, thoueh Gruff 

^ som:"sairht' Zl ^-^^^^i.-lyJ-ing hTs°nate?nt 
W T th^ f ' "^^"j;^' according to its Dictionary mean- 
ing, m the busmess-Tackleton the Toy Merchant was a 

?Znt"'VrT ^'^^ ^^^" ^"'^^ mis'understood bThis 
Parents and Guardians. If they had made him a Money- 
Lender, or a sharp Attorney, or a Sheriffs Officer or a 
^nd .'?; T^^' ^T. T" ^'' discontented oats in hfs'youth 
fr^lff ^^^'"g h^d the full run of himself in ill-natured 

Ike o TlittT;'? l"'' '"^"5^ °"^ ^"^'^b^^' ^' last, for he 

chafin/ in hi n "ff ^"^ "°^^^'y- ^"t' ^'•^"^M and 
chating in the peaceable pursuit of toy-making, he was a 

domestic Ogre, who had been living on children all hiTTife 

tonir.' h^'"" TP'r^^^" enemy/ He despised all to^' 
wouldn t have bought one for the world ; delighted in his 
malice to insinuate grim expressions into the fa^es of brown 

SedTri7'" >"^^ PJ^^ ^^ "^^^^^^' benmen who 13: 
dfr^P^c I ^^'' consciences, movable old ladies who 

hrsockTntaT^r^'^r ^"? ^^^^^ likesamplerof 
e^ed TarV. in R I" fPPa Img masks; hideous, hairy, red- 

X ioSldn't H.T' ^^T'" ^''^'' demoniacal Tumblers 
wno wouldn t lie down, and were perpetually flyinff forward 
to stare mfants out of countenance, his soul peSy revdled 
They were his only relief and safety-valve. He wa^ SS t ,^^ 

tTs'dSrto him"t'l T'^^T ^' ^ ^o-ySgw 

was aeucious to him. He had even lost money (and he tonk 

Untt°^r^ ■"" W^" 8««"g "P Goblin sSfofmaric 
lanterns^ whereon the Powers of Darkness were depicted^ 

siMn A'"'^T'- '•'" *'="-''^'' '"i* human faces. iLfnleS 
sifying the portraiture of Giants, he had sunk Quite a S 

foftt^ irsfr'uSVh-'"'"'" "^^^'f- he -rindiia : 
lorine instruction of his artists, with a piece of chalk a 

S'str "Tr 'heaglsof'^randerelel tTh''eS 
Christmas or Midsummer Vacation 

fhil^^^^ ^ '''^' ^" ^"^y"' ^^ ^^^ (^s most men are) in all other 
things. You may easily suppose, therefore, that ^L the 



» 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 105 

great green cape, which reached down to the calves of his 
legs, there was buttoned up to the chin an uncommonly 
pleasant fellow ; and that he was about as choice a spirit and 
as agreeable a companion as ever stood in a pair of bull 
headed lookmg boots with mahogany-coloured tops' 

Stilly Tackleton the Toy Merchant was going to be married. 
m spite of all this, he wa^ going to be married. And to a 
young wife too— a beautiful young wife. 

He didn't look much like a Bridegroom, as he stood in 
the Carriers kitchen, with a twist in his dry face, and a screw 
in his body, and his hat jerked over the bridge of his nose, 
and his hands stuck down into the bottoms of his pockets, 
and his whole sarcastic, ill-conditioned self peering out of 
one httle comer of one little eye, like the concentrated 
essence of any number of ravens. But a Bridegroom he 
designed to be. 

"In three days' time. Next Thursday. The last day of 
Trckleto^°" '" ^^^ ^^'*' '^^^^'^ ""^ wedding-day," said 

Did I mention that he had always one eye wide open and 
one eye neariy shut, and that the one eye nearly shut was 
always the expressive eye? I don't think I did. 

"That's my wedding-day,' said Tackleton, rattling his 
money. ^ 

^* Why it's our wedding-day too," exclaimed the Carrier. 
Ha, ha ! " laughed Tackleton. « Odd ! You're just such 
another couple. Just ! " 

The indignation of Dot at this presumptuous assertion is 
not to be described. What next? His imagination would 
compass the possibility of just such another Baby, perhaps. 
1 he man was mad. 

" I say ! A word with you," murmured Tackleton, nudging 
?v ^'^'" "^'^^ ^'^ ^^^°^' ^"d taking him a little apart 
know" *^°™^ *° '^^ wedding? We're in the same boat, you 

II How in the same boat ?" inquired the Carrier. 
A httledisparity, you know," said Tackleton, with another 

uffn- ■>,, i"^ ^"^ ^P^"^ a" evening with us beforehand." 
, Why? demanded John, astonished at this pressing 
aospitahty. ^ ^ 



€ 



It 

■■ 4 



I06 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"Why?" returned the other. "That's a new way o* 
receiving an invitation. Why, for pleasure-sociability, you 
know, and all that." '* ^ 

"I thought you were never sociable," said John, in his 
plain way. 

" 1'chah ! It's of no use to be anything but free with you, 
I see said Tackleton. - Why, then, the truth is, you have 
a-what tea-drinkmg people call a sort of a comfortable 
appearance together, you and your wife. We know better, 
you know, but "* 

"No, we don't know better," interposed John. "What 
are you talking about ? " ^ j 

^ "Well, we don'^ know better then," said Tackleton. 
We 11 agree that we don't As you like ; what does it 
matter ? I was going to say, as you have that sort of appear- 
ance, your company will produce a favourable effect on Mrs 
Tackleton that will be. And though I don t think your good 
lady s very friendly to me in this matter, still she can't help 
herself from falling into my views, for there's a compactness 
and coziness of appearance about her that always tells, even 
in an mdifferent case. YouTl say you'll come ? " 
cnllw K^''^ arranged to keep our Wedding-Day (as far as that 
goes) at home," said John. •• We have made the promise to 
ourselves these six months. We think, you see, that home-" 

o -r \ "^nfr^ ^""'f ^ " ""''^^ Tackleton. '• Four walls and 
a ceiling! (VVhy don't you kill that Cricket ? /would. I 
always do. I hate their noise.) There are four walls and a 
ceiling at my house. Come to me ! " 
II You kill your Crickets, eh ? •' said John. 
Scrunch 'em, sir," returned the other, setting his heel 
heavily on the floor. "You'll say you'll come? It's as 
niuch your interest as mine, you know, that the women 
should persuade each other that they're quiet and contented, 
and couldn't be better off. I know their way. Whatever 
one woman says, another woman is determined to clinch 
always There's that spirit of emulation among 'em, Sir 
nl ^T^ "^'^I'^y? to my wife, 'I'm the happiest woman 
in the world, and mine's the best husband in the world, and 
1 dote oil him,' my wife will say the same to yours, or more, 
and half believe it." ^ 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



107 



" Do you mean to say she don't, then ? " asked the Carrier. 

"Don't?" cried Tackleton, with a short, sharp laugh. 
"Don't what?" 

The Carrier had had some faint idea of adding, "dote 
upon you." But happening to meet the half-closed eye, as 
it twinkled upon him over the turned-up collar of the cape, 
which was within an ace of poking it out, he felt it such an 
unlikely part and parcel of anything to be doted on, that he 
substituted, " that she don't believe it ? " 

"Ah, you dog, you're joking," said Tackleton. 

But the Carrier, though slow to understand the full drift of 
his meaning, eyed him in such a serious manner, that he was 
obliged to be a little more explanatory. 

"I have the humour," said Tackleton, holding up the 
fingers of his left hand, and tapping the forefinger to imply 
'there I am, Tackleton to wit," — "I have the humour, Sir, 
to marry a young wife and a pretty wife ; " here he rapped 
his little finger, to express the Bride — not sparingly, but 
sharply, with a sense of power. "I'm able to gratify that 
humour, and I do. It's my whim. But— now look there." 

He pointed to where Dot was sitting thoughtfully before 
the fire, leaning her dimpled chin upon her hand, and watch- 
ing the bright blaze. The Carrier looked at her, and then at 
him, and then at her, and then at him again. 

"She honours and obeys, no doubt, you know," said 
Tackleton ; " and that, as I am not a man of sentiment, is 
quite enough for me. But do you think there's anything 
more in it ? " • 

" I think," observed the Carrier, " that I should chuck any 
man out of window who said there wasn't." 

" Exactly so," returned the other, with an unusual alacrity 
of assent. " To be sure ! Doubtless you would. Of course. 
I'm certain of it. Good night. Pleasant dreams ! " 

The good Carrier was puzzled, and made uncomfortable 
and uncertain in spite of himself. He couldn't help showing 
it in his manner. 

" Good night, my dear friend," said Tackleton compassion- 
ately. _" I'm off. We're exactly alike in reality, I see. You 
won't give us to-morrow evening ? Well ! Next day you go 
out visiting, I know. I'll meet you there, and bring my wife 



I ■ 



108 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



that is to be It'll do her good. You're agreeable ? Thank'ee 
W hat s that ? " 

It was a loud cry from the Carrier's wife— a loud, sharp, 
sudden cry, that made the room ring like a glass vessel. She 
had risen from her seat, and stood like one transfixed by 
terror and surprise. The Stranger had advanced towards 
the fire to warm himself, and stood within a short stride of 
her chair, but quite still. 

" Dot ! " cried the Carrier. « Mary I Darling ! what's the 
matter ? 

They were all about her in a moment. Caleb, who had 
been dozing on tiie cake-box, in the first imperfect recovery 
of his suspended presence of mind seized Miss Slowboy by 
the hair of her head, but immediately apologized. 

"Mary!" exclaimed the Carrier, supporting her in his 
arms. "Are you ill? What is it? Tell me, dear ! » 

She only answered by beating her hands together and 
falling mto a wild fit of laughter. Then, sinking from hi. 
grasp upon the ground, she covered her face with her apron, 
and wept bitterly. And then she laughed again; and then 
she cried again ; and then she said how cold it was, and 
suffered him to lead her to the fire, where she sat down as 
Detore- -the old man standing, as before, quite still. 

I m better, John," she said. «• I'm quite well now— 1_« 
John! But John was on the other side of her. Why 
turn her face towards the strange old gentleman, as if address- 
ing !iim ? Was her brain wandering ? 

"Only a fancy, John dear-a kind of shock-a something 
coming suddenly before my eyes-I don't know what it was 
It s quite gone ; quite gone." 

•Tni glad it's gone,' n.jttered Tackleton, turning the 
expressive eye all round the room. " I wonder whefe it's 
gone and what it was. Humph! Caleb, come here! 
Who s that with the grey hair ? " 

"I don't know, Sir," returned Caleb in a whisper. " Never 
see him before in all my life. A beautiful figure for a nut- 
cracker; quite a new model. With a screw-jaw opening 
down into his waistcoat, he'd be lovely." 
II Not ugly enough," said Tackleton. 
Or for a firebox either." observed Caleb, in deep contem- 



1 » .. -'*«n». 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. log 

plation, **what a model! Unscrew his head to put the 
matches in, turn him heels up'ards for the light, and what 
a firebox for a gentleman's mantel-shelf, just as he stands ! " 

" Not half ugly enough," said Tacklcton. " Nothing in him 
at all. Come ! Bring that box !— i\il right now, I hope ? " 

" Oh, quite gone ! quite gone ! " said the little woman, 
waving him hurriedly away, "Good night." 

" Good night," said Tackleton. " Good night, John Peery- 
bingle. Take care how you carry that box, Caleb. Let it 
fall, and I'll murder you. Dark as pitch, and weather worse 
than e-er, eh ? Good night." 

So, with another sharp look round the room, he went out 
at the door, followed by Caleb with the wedding-cake on his 
head. 

The Carrier had been so much astounded by his little 
wife, and so busily engaged in soothing and tending her, 
that he had scarcely been conscious of the Stranger's pres- 
ence until now, when he again stood there, their only guest. 

" He don't belong to them, you see," said John. " I must 
give him a hint to go." 

"I beg your pardon, friend," said the old gentleman, 
advancmg to him, "the njore so, as I fear your wife has 
not been well, but the Attendant whom my infirmity "—he 
touched his ears and shook his head—" renders almost in- 
dispensable, not having arrived, I fear there must be some 
mistake. The bad night which made the shelter of your 
comfortable cart 'may I never have a worse) so acceptable 
is still as bad as ever. Would you, in your kindness, suffer 
me to rent a bed here ? " 

^' Yes, yes," cried Dot. " Yes, certainly ! " 

"Ohl" said -:,e Carrier, surprised by the rapidity of this 
consent. « Well, I don't object j but still I'm not quite sure 
that » 4 c 

" Hush ! " she interrupted, "dear John ! " 

"Why, he's stone deaf," urged John. 

" I know he is, but— Yes, Sir," certainly. Yes, certainly ! 
ril make him up a bed directly, John." 

As she hurried off to do it, the flutter of her spirits and 
the agitation of her manner were so strange, that the Carrier 
stood looking after her, quite confounded. 



flO 



THE CRICKET ON 



\i. 



„j.., . ••« HEARTH. 

i^ia Its mothers make it up a Beds then f » nri^A \ir- 
Slowboy to the Bahv "ar.^ 1- j •. ^ • " * ^"®" ^'ss 
curly, when its caos wa. m^ ^ "l ^Z"" 8'°^ ^^^ ^^ 
Pets%-sittrnrby theSs ! "'"^ "^' ""^ ^"«^^^" •^' ^ P^^"'^'"^ 

whlifi;^LT„xtura"r'^ ^^k^ "^'"^ ^° ^"«-> 

the Carrier as he wATiHci \^^ °^ "^^^^^ ^"^ confusion, 
mentally reflating ^^^^^^^^^ !."^ ^^°' ^^""^ himself 

So many times that he ^nf !h '"? T*"^'' '"^"y ^i'^e^- 
conning theroveranrfovlri-l^'^ ^^^ ^^^'^' ^"^ ^^'^ still 

maf?4hSd Do. U;^r|/'='^ a.aitLgT"he fire, 
to and fro ' "'°"<'"' """sed the Carrier, pacing 

uneasinesL for TLckleton ^<, • Z"^ ? ™«"=' ''"definite 
that painful «nse himl^.f !^?l'''""'' ^"'' ^'y- «"d he had 

c^irh^ad^diSt--l°^^^^^^^^^^^^ 

geti;er.andhe^c&notC^rra:rdr ''' """"^ - 

anTefreshterbra^uptf'Sf^^eSeV'^^:'''";^''^'^''"^^ 
cTllrri-het- '"'■' """"^^ Slniar:^;;^:d''ttTeI: 
and gave ft hiran'dTT^ ^" ''"^'^"* '"ed hls^pf^ 
on the hearth ™' °'"' "" "'"^ '""^ ^'°°1 beside him 

hafXtrkirffttTon thl"';'^ '"""■• ' """" ^^e must 
little stool. " "'^' " "^ '^ '^'^''■"g. wheedling, 

say! tnX' fot ™r;;'S7hJ'7t'''''=r ^ W^' ' ^-^-'d 
chi^bby little fiLeHnTh.K ^ ^'i''l^- '° "^^ ^^' P"' that 









THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. irf 

most provoking twist in her capital little face as she looked 
down ,t was quite a brilliant thing. As to the tobacco she 
y^ perfect mistress of the subjecl ; and her lighdng of he 
p.p«, WKh a ^..sp of paper, when the Carrier had ft in his 

rtr^i^Z"^ '" "°^^' ^"' '-' "°^ -^ 

icdged It ! The little Mower on the clock, in his unheeded 

he^ad'anH "°"''^i'^ i" ^ ^^.' ^^^'^^' '" ^'^ smoothing fore 
head and expandmg face acknowledged it, the readiest of all. 
And as he soberly and thoughtfully puffed at his old pine 
and as the Dutch clock ticked, and is the red fire Seamed 
and as the Cricket chirped, that Genius of his Helrth and 
Home (for such the Cricket was) came out, in fairy shape, 
in^ the room and sumn--.ned many forms of Home aKou 
h^m. Dots of all ages, ai,d all sizes, filled the chamber. 
Dots who were merry chiMren, running on Lefore him 

fomT.1V '°m"'' '■" ^l!' '^'^'•' ^°y ^°'^' half shrinking 
from, half yielding to, the pleading of his own rough image 

newly-married T)ots, alighting at the door, and taking won-' 
der ng possession of the household keys ; motheriy little 
Dots attended by fictitious Slowboys, bear ng babies to be 
chastened; matronly Dots, still young ana blooming, watch- 
ing Dots of daughters as they danced at rustic balls ; fat 
^u' encircled and beset by troops of rosy grandchildren • 
withered Dots, who leaned on sticks, and tottered as they' 
Wrf 1 "^' ? u ?^7'e''S' too, appeared, with blind old 
Boxers ying at heir feet; and newer carts with younger 
drivers (" Peerybingle Brothers "on the tilt); and sick old 
earners, tended by the gentlest hands; and graves of dead 
and gone old Carriers green in the churchyard. And as 
the Cricket showed him all these things-he saw them 
plainly,^ though his eyes were fixed upon the fire-th^ 

HoZhnM^^'*/'^'^u'^^n^^"^ t^^PPy' ^"^ he thanked his 
bruff and Tackleton than you do. 

But what was that young figure of a man which the same 
*airy Cncket set so near Her stool, and which remained there. 



1^ 

5j 



112 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

singly and alone? Why did it linger still so near her, with 
Its arm upon the chimney-piece, ever repeating, "Married! 
and not to me ! " 

O Dot ! O failing Dot ! There is no place f )r it in all 
your husband's visions : why has its shadow fallen on his 
hearth ? 



CHIRP THE SECOND. 
Caleb Plummer and his Blind Daughter lived all alone by 
themselves as the Story Books say-and my bh.^ssing, with 
yours to back It, I hope, on the Story Books forli^nfi 
anything in this workaday world .'-Caleb Plummer and h"s 
Blind Daughter lived all alone by themselves in a little 
cracked nutshell of a wooden house, which was, in truth, no 
be er than a pimple on the prominent red-brick nose of 
Sr^fh ^^^'?^°"- ^he premises of Gruff and Tackleton 
were the great feature of the street; but you mi^ht have 

two, and carried off the pieces in a cart 

If any one had done the dwelling-house of Caleb Plummer 
the honour to miss it after such an inroad, it would have 
been, no doubt, to commend its demolition as a vast im^ 

fZT^'' Y ''""^ V^^ ^'^'^''^' °^ Gruff and Tackle Si 

ke a barnacle to a ship's keel, or a snail to a door, or a 

ittle bunch of toad-stools to the stem of a tree. But t was 

TacS tT "^^^'^ ^he full-grown trunk of Gruff and 
lackxeton had sprung; and under its crazy roof the Gruff 
before last had in a smal. way, made toys for a general on 

them out'Ld"brf ' 1'" '^^P'^y^^ ^^'^ ^^^-' '"d Sun" 
them out, and broken them, and gone to sleep. 

here hn. ? K M^u^'"^ ^"^ ^'^ P°^^ Blind Daughter lived 

Door BHnH n?°K.^ ^^""^ '^l^ '^^' ^^^^b 1^^^^ he?e. and his 

of riih'f ? ^^t-^' ^°r ^^^'■^ ^1^^' '" ^n enchanted home 

nnf .ii^ /T/'^'"^' ""^^'^ '^'■^^^y ^"d shabbiness were 

hu 'in .h °V^^^ ''■''^' ^"^^'■^^- C^'^b ^^a« no Sorcerer, 
but in the only magic art that still remains to us-the magic 

of devoted, deathless love. Nature had been the Mistress of 
Vk" 2;-^']'l/?'?"' ^^' ^^aching all the wonder came, 
ine Bhnd Gurl never knew that ceilings were discoloured; 



fj THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. II3 

walls blotched, and bare c»f plaster here and there; high 
crevices unstopped, and widening every day ; beams moul' 
I dering and tending downward. The lilind (Jirl never kne^ 
j tliat iron was rusting, wood rotting, paper peeling off; the 
very size, and shape, and true proportion of the dwelling, 
witliering away. The Blind Clirl never knew that ugly shapes 
of delf and earthenware were on the board ; that sorrow and 
faint-heartednes ; were in the house ; that Caleb's scanty 
hairs were turning greyer and more gre^ ijefore her sightless 
face. The Blind Girl never knew they had a master, cold, 
exacting, and uninterested — never knew that Tackleton was 
Tackleton, in short ; but lived in the bilief of an eccentric 
humorist who loved to have his jest with them, and while 
he was the Guardian Angel of their lives, disdained to hear 
one word of thankfulness. 

And all was Caleb's doing — oil the doing of her simple 
father ! But h^ too, had a Cricket on his Hearth ; and 
listening sadly to its music when the motherless Blind Child 
was very young, that Spirit had inspired him with the thought 
ihat even her great deprivation might be almost changed 
into a blessing, and the girl made happy by these little 
means. For all the Cricket Tribe are potent Spirits, even 
though the people who hold converse with them do not 
know it (which is frequently the case) ; and there are not in 
the Unseen World Voices more gentle and more true, that 
may be so implicitly relied on, or that are so certain to 
give none but tenderest counsel, as the voices in which the 
Spirits of the P'ireside and the Hearth address themselves to 
human kind. 

Caleb and his daughter were at work together in their usual 
working-room, which served them for their ordinary Vw'mff 
room as well ; and a strange place it was. There were houses 
in it, finished and unfinished, for Dolls of all stations in life. 
Suburban tenements for Dolls of moderate means ; kitchens 
and single apartments for Dolls of the lover classes ; capital 
town residences for Dolls of high estate. Some of these 
establishments were already furnished according to estimate, 
with a view to the convenience of Dolls of limited income } 
others could be fitted on the most expensive scale, at a mo- 
ment's notice, from whole shelves of chairs ai " ,s, sofas, 






"4 THE CRICKKT ON THF IfEARTH. 

bedsteads, and upholstery. The nobility and gentry and 
pubhc ,n general, for whose accommodation thLfenSnem, 

L, f f ^"^"^ ^''' improved on Nature, who is often fro- 
«rard and perverse; for they, not resting on such arbkil^ 
marks as satm, cotton-print, and bits of fag had surS^affl 
Thn'"fKP'p°,';f .^•"'^•••^"-^^ which allow/d of noSakc 
Thus, the I Alhdy of Distinction had wax limbs of .^rfec; 
symmetry; but only she and her compeers-Se next^ Ide 
m the ^nal scale being made of leather, and the next of 
coarse u.cn stuff. As to the common people they had us 
so many matches out of tinder-boxes for thenar I'^andis 
and there they were-established in their phee at onfe' 
beyond the possibility of getting out of it. ^ ' 

nTk [n r''?K^'S,°"' ""^^^^ ^"'P'^^ «f his handicraft besides 

in hi h ^htfiirdrTp '°"'"- '^^'^^^^ "-^ Noah's Arks 
in wnich the Birds and Beasts were an uncommonly ticht 

how aTIe'rS' ^«"S\^'i^y --"^d be crammTd iL', afy- 
compass, liya bold poetical license, most of these Noih'« 

y^i A pitasant iinish to the outside of fh*^ Kn,M;«„ n-u 
were scores of melancholy little cat wh , 'wt' X whetb 

iiuuiLs, ar ms and other instruments of torture • no #»nH nt 
smclefnf rJ , ^"j^' incessantly swarming up high ob- 
reswcuble not ,^ "'''^ mnumerable old genMemen of 

street doors. tLS were '^^sSVflll^sT^l'.irrse "i^ ^ 

wUh a :LTt7„'?f ■ '™" '"^ ^P"'"-'"* '--el on PouJ p^gs; 
on hif V K . PP"'. '°' * ■"'"'^> '° ">e thoroughbred rocker 
*, io ^^' """S'^- ^^ " """'d have been hard to rourv 
the do^ns upon dozens of grotesque figures that wSe eveJ 



II; 



! THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. I15 

readv to commit all sorts of absurdities on the turning of a 
handle, so it would have been no easy task to mention any 
human folly, vice, or weakness that had not its type, imme- 
diate or remote, in Caleb Plummet's rwm. And not in an 
exaggerated form, for very little handles will movi.' men and 
women to as strange periormances as any Toy was ever made 
to undertake. 

In the midst of all these objects Caleb and his daughter 
sat at work— the Blind Girl busy as a Doll's dressmaker; and 
Caleb pamtmg and glazing the four-pair front of a desirable 
family mansion. 

The care imprinted in the lines of Caleb's face, and his 
absorbed and dreamy manner, which would have sat well on 
some alchemist or abstruse student, were at first sight an odd 
contrast to his occupation and the trivialities about him. 
But tnvial things, invented and pursued for bf-ad, become 
very senous matters of fact ; and, apart from this considera- 
tion, am not at all prepared to say myself that, if Caieb hnd 
been a Lord Chamberlain, or a Member of Parliament, or a 
lawyer, or e-.'en a great speculator, he would have dealt in 
toys one whit less whimsical ; while I have a very great doubt 
whether they would have been as harmless. 

"So you were out in the rain last night, father in your 
beautiful new greatcoat," said Caleb's daughter. 

" In my beautiful new greatcoat," answered Caleb, glan- 
cing towards a clothes-line in the room, on which the -ack- 
cloth garment previously described was carefully hung up 

" How glad I am you bought it, father ! " 

"And of such a tailor, too," said Caleb. "Quite a 
fashionable tailor. It's too good for me." 

The Blind Girl rested from her work and laughed with 
delight. "Too good, father! What can be too good for 
you ? " ° 

" I'm half-ashamed to wear it, though," said Caleb, watch- 
ing the effect ot what he said upon her brightening face • 

upon my word. When I hear the boys and people say 
behind me, ' Hal-loa ! here's a swell!' I don't know which 
way to look. And when the beggar wouldn't go away last 
•wgbt aod. when I said I was a very common man, said. 






THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



Il6 

•No, your Honour! Bless your HonouTrdon't .ay that I ^ 
]. was. quite ashamed. I really felt as if l' hadn't a'righf to 

^ Happy Blind Girl 1 How merry she was in her exul- 

P Jnlv'as' if Th!^ ^k''" '^%'"'^' "^^^P^"g ^'' ^^"ds, "as 
SlrVblie coat— "''" ' ""'''' "^"^ "^^" y- -^ -^h 

" Bright blue," said Caleb. 

"Yes, yes ! Bright blue ! » exclaimed the giri turning 

bluecS— ^ You told me It was blue before. A bright 
;; Made loose to the figure," suggested Caleb. 

ing Sari Iv-'anH'j" ?P^^ '' "/"^^ the Blind Girl, laugh- 
ing heartily and in it you, dear father, with your merrv 
eye your smil.ng face, your free step, and your dark haX 
lookmg so young and handsome t " ' 

"Halloa! halloa!" said Caleb "T Qh^ii k 
presently." ^ ^"^" be vam 

.f y*^.^"\you are already," cried the Blind Girl, pointing 

at h,m m her glee. I know you, father ! Ha hTha^ 

I ve found you out, you see ! " ' ^ " 

How different the picture in her mind from Caleb as he 

sat observmg her ! She had spoken of his free steo %h! 

was nght m that. For years and years he never on^e had 

crossed that threshold at his own slow pace, but with a foot 

fal counterfeited for her ear; and never harL when ht 

heart was heaviest, forgotten the light tread that was to 

render hers so cheerful and courageous < 

Heaven knows ! But I think Caleb's vague bewilderm^nf 
of manner may have half originated in his^hLw confS 

lovTJhtBlin^D ' Z^ ^^^^^^^"^ ^^-"^ hi'm,"for"he 
love ot ms Blind Daughter. How could the little mnn h^ 

SSL ""'i^-STh >f '''^ '!'"^' "^^ "-^"^ 'he real 
trang as sixpennorth of halfpence is to sixpence. What a 



1 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. Jjy 

i pity that the whole front of the house opens at once ! If 
': there was only a staircase in it now, and regular doors to the 
I rooms to go m at ! But that's the worst of my calling— I'm 
I always deluding myself, and swindling myself." 

"You are speaking quite softly. You are not tired. 
I father?" 

"Tired ! " echoed Caleb, with a great burst of animation • 
" what should tire me, Bertha ? / was never tired. What 
does it mean ? " 

To give the greater force to his words, he checked himself 
in an mvoluntary imitation of two half-length stretching and 
yawnmg figures on the mantel-shelf, who were represented as 
in one eternal state of weariness from the waist upwards ; and 
hummed a fragment of a song. It was a Bacchanalian song, 
something about a Sparkling Bowl ; and he sang it with an 
assumption of a Devil-may-care voice, that made his face a 
thousand times more meagre and more thoughtful than ever. 

" What ! you're singing, are you ?" said Tackleton, putting 
his head in at the door. "Go it ! /can't sing." 

Nobody would have suspected him of it. He hadn't what 
IS generally termed a singing face, by any means. 

"I can't afford to sing,' said Tackleton. "I'm glad you 
can. I hope you can afford to work too. Hardly time for 
both, I should think?" 

" If you could only see him, Bertha, how he's winking at 
me," whispered Caleb. " Such a man to joke ! you'd think, 
if you didn't know him, he was in earnest— wouldn't you 
now ? " ■' 

The Blind Girl smiled, and nodded. 

" The bird that can sing and won't sing, must be made to 
sing, they say," grumbled Tackleton. " What about the owl 
that can't sing, and oughtn't to sing, and will sing ; is there 
anything that /le should be made to do ? " 

" The extent to which he's winking at this moment ! " whis- 
pered Caleb to his daughter. " Oh, my gracious ! " 

"Always merry and light-hearted with us!" cried the 
smiling Bertha. 

" Oh, you're there, are you ? " answered Tackleton. " Poor 
Idiot ! " 

He really did believe she was an Idiot, and he founded 



r - 
i - - 






Ii8 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



i f 
1^ ' 



in hirg[udgT4 wf ''"'"''" "' ^°"'" "'' ''^^'^^^°"' 
"Oh, well; quite well. And as happy as even you can 
wish me to be. As happy as you would make the whole 
world, if you could." 

"Poor Idiot!" muttered Tackleton. "No gleam of 
reason. Not a gleam ! " ^ 

The Blind Girl took his hand and kissed it, held it for a 
moment m her own two hands, and laid her cheek against 
It tenderly, before releasing it. There was such unspeakable 
affection and such fervent gratitude in the act, that Tackleton 

« w[ "^f J'""^^^ ^° '^y» '" ^ ^^•^e'- growl than usual,— 
"What's the matter now?" 

"I stood it close beside my pillow when I went to sleep 
d.'v kI.^ t ^^i rf/"^"^bered it in my dreams. And when the 
day broke, and the glorious red sun— the r^^sun, father?" 
r.r.r. n ^ K 'I "^omings and the evenings, Bertha," said 
^?^.9u^^^^ '^''^ ^ ""^^^"^ gl^"ce at his employer. 

When It rose, and the bright light I almost fear to strike 
myself against in walking, came into the room, I turned the 
little tree towards it, and blessed Heaven for making things 
so precious, and blessed you for sending them to cheer me ! » 
^^ Bedlam broke loose ! " said Tackleton under his breath. 
We sha 1 arrive at the strait-waistcoat and mufflers soon. 
We re getting on ! " 

Caleb, with his hands hooked loosely in each other, stared 
vacantly before him while his daughter spoke, as if he really 
were uncertain (I b lieve he was) whether Tackleton had 
done anything to deserve her thanks, or not. If he could 
have been a perfectly free agent at that moment, required, 
on pam of death to kick the Toy Merchant, or fall at his 
feet, according to his merits, I believe it would have been an 
even chance which course he would have taken. Yet Caleb 
knew that with his own hands he had brought the little rose 
tree home for her so carefully ; and that with his own lips he 
had forged the innocent deception which should help to keen 
her from suspecting how much, how very much, he every day 
denied himself, that she might be the happier 



THE CRK KET ON THE HEARTH. I IQ 

"Bertha ! " said Tackleton, assuming, for the nonce, a little 
cordiality, " come here." 

"Oh, I can come straight to you! You needn't guide 
me ! " she rejoined. 

" Shall I tell you a secret, Bertha ? " 

•' If you will ! " she answered eagerly. 

How bright the darkened face ! How adorned with light, 
the listening head ! 

"This is the day on which little What's-her-name— the 
spoilt child, Peerybingle's wife— pays her regular visit to you, 
—makes her fantastic Pic-Nic here, ain't it ? " said Tackleton, 
with a strong expression of distaste for the whole concern. 

" Yes," replied Bertha. " This is the day." 

" I thought )," said Tackleton. " I should like to join 
the party." 

" "^o you hear that, father ? " cried the Blind Girl, in an 

ecs ,/. 

"Yes, yes, I hear it," murmured Caleb, with the fixed look 
of a sleep-walker ; " but I don't believe it. It's one of my 
lies, I've no doubt." 

" You see I— I want to bring the Peerybingles a little more 
into company with May Fielding," said Tackleton. " I am 
going to be married to May." 

" Married ! " cried the Blind Girl, starting from him. 

"She's such a con-founded Idiot," muttered Tack I -on, 
" that I was afraid she'd never comprehend me. Ah, Bertha ! 
Married ! Church, parson, clerk, beadle, glass-coach, bells, 
breakfast, bride-cake, favours, marrow-bones, .leavers, and all 
the rest of the tomfoolery'. A wedding, you know ; a wed- 
ding. Don't you know what a wedding is ? " 

" I know," replied the Blind Girl, in a gentle tone. " I 
unde'-tand." 

" Do you ? " muttered Tackleton. " It's more than I ex- 
pected. Well, on that account I want to join the party, 
and to bring May and her mother. I'll send in a little some- 
thing or other before the afternoon~a cold leg of mutton, 
or some comfortable trifle of that sort. You'll expect me ? " 

" Yes," she answered. 

She had dropped her head, and turned away; and so 
stood, with her hands crossed, musing. 



•< 






120 THE CRICKET UN THE HEARTH. 

"I dont think you will," muttered Tackleton, looking at 

Caleb.""" Sir r'""'^ '° "^^ ^'"^ ^^'^' ^ '"PP^^^" '''°"gh' 
"Take care she don't forget what Ive been saying to her." 
, 5-fe never forgets, '; returned Caleb. - It's one of the few 

things she ain't clever in." 

Tnl^f "^k""? ^^i"^' ^'^ ^'^'^ g^^se ^^^^"s." observed the 
Toy Merchant, with a shrug. " Poor devil ' " 

Having delivered himself of which remark, with infinite 
contempt, old GrufT and Tackleton withdrew. Bertha 
remained where he had left her, lost in meditation. The 
ga^ty had vanished from her downcast face, and it was very 
sad. Three or four times she shook her head, as if bewail- 
ing some remembrance or som^ loss : but her sorrowful re- 
flections found no vent in words auxruwiui re- 
It was not until Caleb had been occupied some tim- in 
yoking a team of horses to a wagon by the"^ summary process 
of nailing the harness to the vital parts of their bodies, tha 
hi^, sS^!!!" ' working-stool, and sitting down beside 

"Father, I am lonely in the dark. I want my eves— mv 

patient, willing eyes." ^ ^ ^ 

" Here they are/' said Caleb. " Always ready. They are 

rentv^°"mi;'"h 1,""'' ^'^^^^ ""^ ^^"^ ^" '^^ f°-^nd 
twenty. What shall your eyes do for you, dear?" 

i^ok round the room, father " 

Berth^I""^^^" "^^ ^^^^- "^° '°°""' ^^^^ ^^^" do"^ 

"Tell me about it." 

"It's much the same as usual," said Caleb. "Homely, 
but very snug The gay colours on the walls, the brigh 
flowers on the plates and dishes, the shining wood whlre 

r.^!;; ^^ r^f T .?!. P^"^^'' ^^^ g^^^^er^l cheerfulness and 
neatness of the building, make it very pretty." 

K^Efi!'^"' T^ "^^^ '^ '''^^ wherever Bertha's hands could 
busy themselves But nowhere else were cheerfulness and 
neatness possible in the old crazy shed which Caleb's fancy 
so transformed ' 






r." 



THE CRICkET on THE HEARTH. 121 

<' You have your working dress on, and are not so gallant 
as when you wear the handsome coat ? " said Bertha, touch- 
ing him. 

"Not quite so gallant," answered Caleb. "Pretty brisk, 
though." ^ * 

" Father," said the Blind Girl, drawing close to his side, 
and stealing one arm round his neck, "tell me something 
about May. She is very fair ? " 

"She is indeed," said Caleb. And she was indeed. It 
was quite a rare thing to Caleb not to have to draw on his 
invention. 

"Her hair is dark," said Bertha pensively, "darker than 
mine. Her voice is sweet and musical, I know. I have 
often loved to hear it. Her shape " 

"There's not a Doll's in all the room to equal it," said 
C. b. "And her eyes " 

He stopped ; for Bertha had drawn closer round his neck, 
and, from the arm that clung about him, came a warning 
pressure which he understood too well. 

He coughed a moment, hammered for a moment, and then 
fell back upon the song about the Sparkling Bowl— his infal- 
lible resource in all such difficulties. 

"Our friend, father — our benefactor. I am never tired, 
you know, of hearing about him. Now, was I ever?" she 
said hastily. 

"Of course not," answered Caleb. "And with reason." 

"Ah, with how much reason !" cried the Bhnd Girl, with 
such fervency that Caleb, though his motives were so pure, 
could not endure to meet her face, but dropped his eyes, as 
if she could have read in them his innocent deceit. 

"Then tell me again about him, dear father," said Bertha. 
"Many times again! His face is benevolent, kind, and 
tender. Honest and true, I am sure it is. The manly heart 
that tries to cloak all favours with a show of roughness and 
unwillingness, beats in its every look and glance." 

"And makes it noble,"added Caleb, in his quiet desperation. 

"And makes it noble i" cried the Blind Girl. "He is 
older than May, father." 

" Ye-es," said Cal -eluctantly. " He's a little older than 
May. But that do ^iiify." 



■■ 7 



t- ' 



r-- 



122 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"Oh, father, yes! To be his patient companion in in- 

tn^nTf'^^^'- '° ^1^'?^ S^"^^^ ""^^^ ^" sickness? and hS 
constant friend in suffering and sorrow ; to know no weari- 
ness in working for his sake; to watch him, tend him st 
beside his bed, and talk to him, awake; and pray foT him 
asleep-what privileges these would be ! What opportunit e^ 

S.?lT n^.K-" ^f' '7"'^ ""^ ^'' ^^^°^i°" to him^. Would 
she do all this, dear father ? " 

I' No doubt of it," said Caleb. 

" I Jove her father; I can love her from my soul i" ex- 
claimed the Blind Girl. And saying so, she lafd her' poor 
blind face on Caleb's shoulder, and so wept and went to 

uporLr. "'' ""' '° '^^^ ^^°"°'^ ^^^^ ''^''^' ^W'iness 
In the meantime, there had been a prettv sharo rom 
motion at John Peerybingle's ; for little Tlrs^ FeerybS 

and to get the Baby under way took time. Not that there 
was much of the Baby, speaking of it as a thing oTwdght 
and measure but there was a vast deal to do about Td 
about It, and it all had to be done by easy stages For 
instance, when t! . Baby was got, by hook anVbTcrook to 
a certain point of dressing, and you might have^adomly 
supposed that another touch or two would finish him offand 
turn him out a tip-top Baby, challenging the worlj he was 

Ld whte h' '?"'""^f^/ ^" " ^^""^^ ^^'P' -"^ hustled ofHo 
bed where he simmered (so to speak) between two blankets 

was then'reo'T/ f V '""^' ^^^"^ ^^'^ ^'^'^ ^' -^^tb" he 
was then recalled, shining very much and roaring violentlv 

to partake of-well ! I would rather say, if you' "^ miTme 

o speak generally-of a slight repast. \tL which hTvent 

ter^iTL'S; Mrs. Peerybingle took advantage of thilin- 

llT K / ^T^^^ ^^ '""^^""t ^" a ^^all way as ever vou 

t?ucel£''sio;h" '- "'^!.l"' '^""^ ^^' ---"h-t 
truce. Miss Slowboy insinuated herself into a spencer of o 

fashion so surprising and ingenious, that it had^no connec 

tion^vith herself or anything else in the universe but was t 

shrunken, dog's-eared, independent fact, pursu ng its lonel? 

course without the least regard to anybody. B? this tfr^e 

^e Baby, being all alive again, was invested, by^he unked 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 12$ 

I efforts of Mrs. Peerybingle and Miss Slowboy, with a cream- 

j coloured mantle for its body, and a sort of nankeen raised- 

i pie for Its head ; and so in course of time they all three cot 

aown to the door, where the old horse had already taken 

more than the full value of his day's toll out of the Turnpike 

Trust, by tearing up the road with his impatient autographs 

-and whence Boxer might be dimly seen ia the remote per- 

spective, standmg looking back, and tempting him to come 

on without orders. 

As to a chair, or anything of that kind for helping Mrs. 
Peerybingle into the cart, you know very little of John, I 
flatter myself, if you think ///«/ was necessary. Before you 
could have seen him lift her from the ground, there she was 

IJ?, P7 Pj^^^' ^'■^fh and rosy, saying, "John! how can you? 
Think of Tilly ! " ^ 

If I might be allowed to mention a young lady's legs on 
any terms, I would observe of Miss Slowboy's that there 'was 
a fatality about them which rendered them singularly liable 
to be grazed ; and that she never effected the smallest ascent 
or descent without recording the circumstance upon them 
with a notch, as Robinson Crusoe marked the days upon his 
wooden calendar. But as this might be considered ungenteel, 
1 11 think of It. 

"John! you've got the basket with the Veal and Ham 
Pie and things, and the bottles of Beer?" said Dot. "If 
you haven't, you must turn round again, this very minute " 

"You're a nice little article," returned the Carrier, "to be 
talking about turning round, after keeping me a full quarter 
ot an hour behind my time." 

"I am sorry for it, John," said Dot, in a great bustle, "hut 
I really could not think of going to Bertha's— I wouldn't do 
It, John, on any account— without the Veal and Ham Pie 
and things, and the bottles of Beer. Way ! " 

This monosyllable was addressed to the Horse, who didn't 
mind It at all. ' 

!! ?!]; f' ^Y^y' J°^" • " said Mrs. Peerybingle. " Please ! " 

It II be time enough to do that," returned John, "when I 

enough" ^^^^^ 'h^"gs behind me. The basket's here, safe 

"What a hard-hearted monster you must be, John, not to 



'-< 



I 






124 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH, 

have said so at once, and saved me such a turn ! I declare I 
wouldn't go to Bertha's without the Veal and Ham Pie and 
things, and the bottles of Beer, for any money. Regularly 
once a fortnight ever since we have been married, John 
have we made our little Pic-Nic there. If anything was to 
go wrong with it, I should almost think we were never to bo 
lucky again." 

" It was a kind thought in the first instance," said the 
Carrier; "and 1 honour you for it, little woman." 

"My dear John," replied Dot, turning very red, "don't 
talk about honouring me. Good Gracious ! " 

** By-the-bye " observed the Carrier. " That old gentle- 
man " ° 

Again so visibly and instantly embarrassed. 

" He's an odd fisli," said the Carrier, looking straight alona 
the road before them. "I can't make him out. I don^ 
believe there's any harm in him." 

^'1 None at all. I'm— I'm sure there's none at all." 

"Yes?" said the Carrier, with his eyes attracted to her 
face by the great earnestness of her manner " I am glad 
you feel so certain of it, because it's a confirmation to me 
Its curious that he should have taken it into his ht..d to ask 
leave to go on lodging with us, ain't it ? Things come about 
so strangely." 

"So very strangely," she rejoined in a low voice, scarcely 
audible. ^ 

u " J^®^^^^**' ^^'s a good-natured old gentleman," said John 
and pays as a gentleman, and I think his word is to be 
rehed upon, like a gentleman's. I had quite a long talk with 
him this morning— he can hear me better already, he says, as 
he gets more used to my voice. He told me a great deal 
about himself, and I told him a good deal about myself, and 
a rare lot of questions he asked me. I gave him information 
about niy having two beats, you know, in my business— one 
day to the right from our house and back again ; another dav 
to the left from our house and back again (for he's a stranger 
and don't know the names of places about here)— and' he 
seemed quite pleased. 'Why, then I shall be retun " -^ home 
to-night your way,' he says, 'when I thought you'd be doming 
in an exactly opposite direction. That's capital. I may 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 125 

trouble you for another lift perhaps, but I'll engage not to fall 
so sound asleep again.' He was sound asleep, sure-ly '— 
Dot ! what are you thinking of?" 
"Thinking of, John ? I— I was listening to you." 
"Oh, that's all right ! " said the honest Carrier. " I was 
afraid, from the look of your face, that I had gone rambling 
on so long as to set you minking about something else. I 
was very near it, I'll be bound." 

Dot making no reply, they jogged on, for some little time, 
in silence. But it was not easy to remain silent very long in 
John Peerybingle's cart, for everybody on the road had some- 
thing to say ; and though it might only be " How are you ? " 
—and mdeed it was very often nothing else— still, to give 
that back again in the right spirit of cordiality, required, not 
merely a nod and a smile, but as wholesome an acfon of 
the lungs withal as a long-winded Parliamentary speech. 
Sometmies passengers on foot or horseback plodded on a 
little way beside the cart for the express purpose of having 
a chat ; and then there was a great deal to be said on both 
sides. 

Then Boxer gave occasio'i to more good-natured recog- 
nitions of and by the Carrier than half a dozen Christians 
could have done ! Everybody knew him, all along the road, 
especially the fowls and pigs, who, when they saw him 
approaching, with his body all on one side, and his ears 
pricked up inquisitively, and that knob of a tail making the 
most of Itself in the air, immediately withdrew into remote 
back settlements, without waiting for the honour of a neare; 
acquaintance. He had business everywhere — going down 
all the turnings, looking into all the wells, bolting in and out 
of all the cottages, dashing into the midst of all the Dame- 
Schools, fluttering all the pigeons, magnifying the tails of all 
the cats, and trotting into the public-houses like a regular 
customer. Wherever he went, somebody or other might 
have been heard to cry, " Halloa ! here's Boxer ! " and out 
came that somebody forthwith, accompanied by at least two 
or three other somebodies, to give John Peerybingle and his 
pretty wife Good Day. 

The packages and parcels for the errand cart were nu^ 
merousj and there were many stoppages to take them in 



II 



126 



THE CRICKET ON 'imE HEARTH. 



h 



and give them out, which were not by any means the worst 
parts of the journey. Some people were so full of expectation 
about their parcels, and other people were so full of wonder 
about their parcels, and other people were so full of in 
exhaustible directions about their parcels, and John had 
such a lively interest in all the parcels, that it was as good 
as a play. Likewise, there were articles to carry, which 
required to be considered and discussed, and in reference 
to the adjustment and disposition of which councils had to 
be holden by the Carrier and the senders, at which Boxer 
usually assisted, in short fits of the closest attention, and long 
fits of tearing round and round the assembled sages and bark- 
ing himself hoarse. Of all these little incidents, Dot was the 
amused and open-eyed spectatress from her chair in the cart ; 
and as she sat there, looking on — a charming little portr..it 
framed to admiration by the tilt — there was no lack of nudg- 
ings and glancings and whisperings and envyings among the 
younger mt; I promise you. And this delighted John the 
Carrier beyoi.d measure ; for he was proud to have his little 
v/ife admired, knowing that she didn't mmd it — that, if any- 
thing, she rather liked it, perhaps. 

"he trip was a little foggy, to be sure, in the January 
wea her, and was raw and cold. But who cared for such 
trifles? Not Dot, decidedly. Not Tilly Slowboy, for she 
deemed sitting in a cart, on any terms, to be the highest 
point of human joys, the crowning circumstance of earthly 
hopes. Not the Baby, I'll be sworn ; for it's not in Baby 
nature to be warmer or more sound asleep, though its capacity 
is great in both respects, than that blessed young Peerybingle 
was all the way. 

You couldn't see very far in the fog, of course ; but you 
could see a great deal — oh, a great deal ! It's astonishing 
how much you may see in a thicker fog than that, if you will 
only take the trouble to look for it. Why, even to sit watch- 
ing for the Fairy-rings in the fields, and for the patches of 
hoar-frost still lingering in the shade, near hedges and by 
trees, was a pleasant occupation — to make no mention of the 
unexpected shapes in which the trees themselves came start- 
ing out of the mist, and glided into it again. The hedges 
M'ere tangled and bare, and waved a multitude of blighted 



9 

\\ 

ii 

.ir 
c; 
.s 

fa 

111 



:fla 

Ire 

an 
thi 
\v;i 
pa 
th< 
be 
th( 

ills 

att 
otl- 
he 
kn( 
Ho 
Ihn 
Em 
bui 
hoi 
Vi'i 

I 
4?h( 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTW. 1 27 

garlands in the wind ; but there was no discouragement in 
this. It was agreeable to contemplate ; for it made the fire- 
side warmer m possession, and the summer greener in ex- 
lACtancy. The river looked chilly ; but it was in motion, 
and movmg at a good pace, which was a great point. The 
canal was rather slow and torpid— that must be admitted, 
.sever mmd. It would freeze the sooner when the frost set 
fairly in, and then there would be skating and sliding; and 
die heavy old barges, frozen up somewhere near a wharf, 
would smoke their rusty iron chimney-pipes all day. and 
have a lazy time of it. 

In one place there was a great mound of weeds or stubble 
burning ; and they watched the fire, so white in the daytime 
flanncr through the fog, with only here and there a Hash of 
red m it, until, m consequence a- she observed of the smoke 
"getting up her nose," Miss Slowboy choked— she could do 
anything of that sort on the smallest provocation— and woke 
the Baby, who wouldn't go to sleep again. But Boxer, who 
was m advance some quarter of a mile or so, had already 
.passed the outposts of the town, and gained the corner of 
fthe street where Caleb and his daughter lived ; and long 

ary before they reached the door, he and the Blind Girl were on 

, the pavement waiting to receive them. 

she.|. Boxer, by the way, made certain delicate distinctions of 

hlvV''^?'ir '" his communication with Bertha, which persuade 



irst 

ion 
der 
in- 
laii 
)0(! 
icli 
ace 
[to 
xer 
)ng 
irk- 
the 
irt; 
r^it 
dg- 
the 
the 
ttlc 
,ny- 



:hly 
aby 
city 
igle 



you 
,ing 
will 
:ch- 
5 of 
bv 



me fully that he knew her to be blind. He never sought to 
attract her attention by looking at her, as he often did with 
other people, but touched her invariably. What experience 
he could ever have had of blind people or blind dogs, I don't 
know. He had never lived with a blind master; nor had Mr. 
Oioxer the elder, nor Mrs. Boxer, nor any of his respectable 
pamily on either side, ever been visited with blindness that I 
m aware of. He may have found it out for himself, perhaps, 
tut he had got hold of it somehow; and therefore he had 
|old of Bertha, too, by the skirt, and kept hold until Mrs. 

ti.. i '^' .,"^'^^ "^"^ ^^''-" ^^^y' ^"^ ^^'''^ Slowboy and the basket, 
tne ptTQ all got safely within doors. 

art- [I May Fielding was already come, and so was her mother— 

..ts a httie querulous chip of an old lady with a peevish face, 

*iho, m right of having j .served a waist like a bedpost, was 

5 






r-v 



i 11 



I I 



ia8 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

supposed to be a most .transcendent figure ; and who in 
consequence of having once been bc-tter off, or of la7x,C'rinJ 
under an impression that she nnght have b^en if soSn 
had happened which never did happen, and seemed to hav 
never been particularly likely to come' to pass-but it's all 

Ind%l^l7r' ''"'^ ^r'^'f '^"^ P-^tronizing indeed. Grui, 
and lackleton was also there doing the agreeable with tht 

auestronfh?"- 'T "' ^'l^' " ^^^^^^'^ '' horn 'and s t 
questionably m his own element, as a fresh young salmon en 
the ton of the Great Pyramid. 

mll^^u^ ' "?.\ vu"" °!^ ^''"'"^ ' " "'^^ I^^^t, running up to 
meet her. " What a hai)piness to see you I " ^ 

Her old friend was, to the full, as hearty and as glad as 

S!i <? T '^'"- ^"'^/f^^- 'r^cJ^leton was a man of tast 
beyond all question— May was very pretty. 

You know sometimes, when you are used to a pretty face 
how when It comes into contact and comparison with anoth.; 

FnH ^ A^' l^ T""^ ^"^ ^^'^ "^^'"^"^ to ^ h^'^^'ly and fade.] 
mid hardly to deserve the high opinion you have had of it 

Now^ this was not at all the case either with Dot or May" 
for May's face set ofT Dot's, and Dot's face set off Ma^^s o 
naturally and agreeably, that, as John Peerybingle was v'cry 
near saying when he came into the room, they ought to ha^ 
ha':: s^gg"esTer "'"' "" ^'^ °"^^ improv/ment you could 

tole^J^l^Tf.\^t brought his leg of mutton, and, wonderful 
wh/n o^; K ^J besides-but we don't mind a little dissipation 
when our brides are in the case; we don't get married every 
«nH~S" 'n addition to these dainties, there were the Vea 
fhL Tu'^' and « things," as Mrs. Peerybingle called 

such small deer. When the repast was set forth on the 
a^rd, flanked by Caleb's contribution, which was a great 
wooden bowl of smoking potatoes (he was prohibited! bv 
tonTi K^""^? ^' ^JT P'-?^"^'"? any other viands), Tackle- 
Fnr Ik t'J"^^"^^? mother-in-law to the Post of Honour. 
For the better gracing of this place at the high Festival, 

SLS'I"" ""'^ ?°"^^^*^ ^^o^"^d herself with a cap 
calculated to inspire the thoughtless with sentiments of 



^ 

ri 
I.' 
a 

ta 
D 



SI' 

! 

!!U 

lai 
D( 



lo, in 

luring 

•thini; 

hav 

t's ali 

Gruii 

h Ihr 

s un- 
•n f)0 

p to 

id as 
isant 
taste 

face, 

•thcr 
del 
.f it. 
lay; 

>, 50 

Very 
lave 
nild 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. lag 

Tdie 1^^' "^''^ "''''' ^'' «'°^^^- ^"^ '^-^ "^ be genteel. 

.o^n.ght have nothing else to knock tU^B^Tu!!:^ 

As Tilly stared about her at the Dolk in/? t« .u 
stared at her and at the company. The vencTabllCf'' '^,f^ 
men at the street doors (who were a I in fnU • ^ P"^'"^- 

till, "^f '.K '' '""^ ''°'- " "^-^'f. 'l'^^'. «hat chances ^ To 
«ik of those merry school-days makes c'^e young aga"'" 

Do'I'^h'" "yi '°^'' P'°'^<^'"K husband there," returned 
" ^'o"y," John replied. 

"Dear, dear I" said Dot. "Only to remember how w« 



'e. 



I30 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

used to talk at school about the husL.mds we would choose. 
I don t know how young, and how handsome, and how gay 
and how lively mine was not to be ! and as to May's '-Ah 
dear! I don t know whether to laugh or cry when I think 
what silly girls we were." / * ^ ""hk 

int!f h^'f^^^ 'f. ^"°^ ""^"^ '° ^°' ^°^ '^^ ^°lo"r flashed 
mto her face and tears stood in her eyes. 

"Even the very persons themselves-real live young men 
—we fixed on sometimes," said Dot. " We little thought 
how things would come about. I never fixed on John f'n 
sure , I never so much as thought of him. And if I had 
told you you were ever to be married to Mr. Tackleton, why 
you d have slapped me. Wouldn't you, May ? " ^' 

Though May didn't say yes, she certainly didn't say no. or 
express no, by any means. ^ ' 

Tnifn ''pl^^'^K- ^^"g^^-quite shouted, he laughed so loud. 
John Peerybingle laughed, too, in his ordinary good-natured 

"You couldn't help yourselves, for all that. You couldn't 
resist us you see," s.id Tackleton. " Here we are ! here we 
are Where are your gay young bridegrooms now!" 

Some of them are dead," said Dot, -and some of them 
forgotten. Some of them, if they could stand amon^r us^ 

^d V % f"'^ l^^' ''^^' '^^y '^''^ ^"d heard was reai. 

oneiorrofitr'"' '''" ^" ""^ ^ ^^^^ ^^"^^ -^ ^^^-e 

QK^^u^' P"' • ," ^''C'^^ed the Carrier. « Little woman ' " 
bhe had spoken with such earnestness and fire that she 

Hp? h.'l"''^? u 'T"" '^^^"'"S to herself without doubt. 
Her husbands check was very gentle, for he merely inter 
fered as he supposed, to shield old Tackleton ; but it proved 
effectual, for she stopped, and said no more. The^was 
an uncommon agitation, even in her silence, which the warv 
her nnS T 1^"^ .^'""^ht his half-shut eye to bear upon 
you wm see '^ ^' ' remembered to some purpose too, as 

May uttered no word, good or bad, but sat quite still, with 
aer eyes cast down, and made no sign of interest in what bad 



h; 
si 
th 
M 
ot 
de 
ex 

th. 
an 

SO 

[by 
!ha( 
^(]e< 
I in , 

haj 
the 
one 



I 



oose. 

gay, 

-Ah, 
hink 

shed 

men 
LJght I 
I'm 
had 
vhy, 



», or 



)ud. 

ired 
ugh 

dn't 
we 

lem 
i at 
ires 
sa!, 
sve 



;he 

,bt. 

:er 

'ed 

ras 

iry 

on 

as 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH j^, 

then remarked, in a devoul spirit ln-'t\h,,\, I Tl, ^ 
she had always found in her iuS' r xif ^ r"? '"'^'"'^" 
d.en. child /for which" she ffij^S; ^'ne'r^^lhoth 

no one m their senses coulH HnnK«- /cu ucbirta, 

here.) With re-anl TnT f ■ • ^^^^^ ""'^^ ^'^''y emphatic 

stances nnt xvL^ii b^""^'t> j and that if certain circum- 

".her .h nts':"jeh"st"<S ^ ; aTg aUe'nSj; ^ ^^7 

b? infor™?icr;I ™ ""-' approaching nuptials. She concffl 

had't rf:?e%^eTsranV.t,'T°™ ™^ '"^ "^«'' ^^^ 
■l«ire nothinrbener than ,ohl"'1 ","■'" °'f> ^^e would 



^ i 



132 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

the cold mutton, the potatoes, and the tart. In order that 
the bottled beer might not be slighted, John Peerybingle 
proposed To-morrow — the Wedding-Day — and called upon 
them to drink a bumper to it before he proceeded on hi> 
journey. 

For you ought to know that he only rested there, and gave 
the old horse a bait. He had to go some four or five miles 
farther on ; and when he returned in the evening, he called 
for Dot, and took another rest on his way home. This was 
the order of the day on all the Pic-Nic occasions, and had 
been ever since their institution. 

There were two persons present, besides the bride and 
bridegroom-elect, who did but indifferent honour to the toast. 
One of these was Dot, too flushed and discomposed to adapt 
herself to any small occurrence of the moment ; the other 
Bertha, who rose up hurriedly before the rest and left the 
table. 

" Good-bye ! " said stout John Peerybingle, pulling on his 
dreadnought coat. " I shall be back at the old time. Good- 
bye all ! » 

" Good-bye, John," returned Caleb. 

He seemed to say it by rote, and to wave his hand in the 
same unconscious manner ; for he stood observing Bertha 
with an anxious, wondering face that never altered its ex- 
pression. 

"Good-bye, young shaver!" said the jolly Carrier, bending 
down to kiss the child, which Tilly Slowboy, now intent upon 
her knife and fork, had deposited asleep (and, strange to say, 
without damage) in a little cot of Bertha's furnishing; "good- 
bye ! Time will come, I suppose, when jou'W turn out into 
the cold, my little friend, and leave your old father to enjoy 
his pipe and his rheumatics in the chinmey-comer — eh? 
Where's Dot?" 

" I'm here, John ! " she said, starting. 

" Come, come ! " returned the Carrier, clapping his sound- 
ins hands. " Where's 1 



(( 



Pipe 
I quite forgot the pipe, John 



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it 
d] 
h 
ni 
h( 
m 



Tc 

be 

en 

,in 

tin 
Di 

H( 

thi 
Tc 

tea 

hei 

Be: 
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mil 



Forgot the Pipe ! Was such a wonder ever heard of! 
She I Forgot the Pipe ! 

" 111— I'll fill it directly. It's soon donCc" 



lat 

gle 
ion 
hi^ 

ivc 

les 
led 
vas 
lad 

,nd 
ist. 
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his 



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id- 



of! 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 133 

But it was not so soon done, either. It lay in the usual 
place- the Carrier's dreadnought pocket -with the little 
pouch, her own work, froi > which she was used to fill it 
but her hand shook so, that she entangled it (and yet her' 
and was small enough to have come out easily I am sure) 
.nd bungled t^rnbly. The filling of the Pipe^nd light S 
it-taose httle oftices in which I have commended he? 
dscretjon, ,f you recollect-were vilely done, from first to 
ia.t During the whole process, Tackleton stood looking pn 
maliciously w,th the half-closed eye, which, whenever it uk" 
hers-or caught ,t, for it can hardly be said to have eve 
met another eye, rather being a kind of trap to snatch it up 
-augmented her confusion in a most remarkable degree 
Tnh 'l^ 7 ^/^T'y ^°' >■"" ^^^' this afternoon ! " said 
b?!ie;e!" """" '' ^'''^' °^>^'^1^' I ^-^"iy 

With these good-natured words, he strode away ; and pres- 
ently was heard, m company with Boxer, and the old horse 
ind the cart, making lively music down the road What 
tmie the dreamy Caleb still stood, watching his Blind 
i daughter, with the same expression on his face 

"Bertha!" said Caleb softly, "what ha^ happened? 
How changed you are, my P ng, in a few hours-since 

Tell me !''"^* "^'"' ^" ' ^" ^^^ ' ^hat is it? 

"Oh, father, father!" cried the Blind Girl, bursting into 
tears. " Oh, my hard, hard Fate ! " ^ ^ 

^^Caleb drew his hand across his eyes before he answered 

Kerthr- *^R^ ^°'' ''a''^'^''] ^u"^ ^°^" ^^^PPy y°" have been, 
jtople." ^ ' ^°'' "'""•' ^°^^^ ^y "^W 

JlJc^f f "^f Tf ^"^ *^^ ^^^'^' ^^^' father ! Always so 
mindful of me ! Always so kind to me ! " 

Caleb was very much perplexed to understand her. 

• w. rlS- -^ ^^'1^' ^^'^^^ "^>' P°°^ ^^^^'^ he faltered, 
IS a great affliction ; but " ' 

"I have never felt it!" cried the Blind Girl. "I have 
Sed^^.A'" its fullness. Never! I have sometimes 
wished that I could see you, or could see him— only once, 



134 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

dear father ; only for one little minute — that I might know 
what it is I treasure up,'* she laid her hands upon her breast, 
"and hold here! That I might be sure I have it right: 
And sometimes (but then I was a ^hild) I have wept, in my 
prayers at night, to think that when your images ascended 
from my heart to Heaven, they might not be the true resem- 
blance of yourselves. But I have never had these feelings 
long. They have passed away, and left me tranquil and 
contented." 

" And they will again." said Caleb. 

" But, father ! Oh, my good, gentle father, bear with me, 
if I am wicked ! " said the Blind Girl. " This is i.jt the 
sorrow that so weighs me down ! " 

Her father could not choose but let his moist eyes over- 
flow, she was so earnest and pathetic. But he did not 
understand her yet. 

*' Bring her to me," said Bertha. " I cannot hold it closed 
and shut within myself. Bring her to me, father ! " 

She knew he hesitated, and said, " May. Bring May ! " 

May heard the mention of her name, and coming quietly 
towards her, touched her on the arm. The Blind Girl 
turned immediately, and held her by both hands. 

" Look into my face, Dear heart. Sweet heart ! " said 
Bertha. " Read it with your beautiful eyes, and tell me if 
the Truth is written on it." 

" Dear Bertha, Yes ! " 

The Blind Girl, still upturning the blank sightless face. 
down which the tears were coursing fast, addressed her in 
these words, — 

" There is not, in my Soul, a wish or thought that is not 
for your good, bright May ! There is not, in my Soul, a 
grateful recollection stronger than the deep remembrance 
which is stored there, of the many, many times when, in the 
full pride of Sight and Beauty, you have had consideration 
for Blind Bertha, even when we two were children, or wher 
Bertha was as much a child as ever blindness can b( 
Every blessing on your head ! Light upon your happy 
course ! Not the less, my dear May " — and she drew towards 
her, in a closer grasp — "not the less, my Bird, because, 
to-day, the knowledge that you are to be His wife has wrunj 



V-"^^ffi8»\-?.'^l|JKi; 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 1 35 

my heart almosi to breaking ! Father, May, Mary ! oh, 
forgive me that it is so, for the sake of all he has done to 
relieve the weariness of my dark life ; and for the sake of 
'he belief you have in me, when I call Heaven to witness 
that I could not wish him married to a wife more worthy of 
his Goodness ! " 

While speaking, she had released May Fielding's hands, 
and clasped her garments in an attitude of mingled suppli- 
cation and love. Sinking lower and lower down, as she 
proceeded in her strange confession, she dropped at last at 
the feet of her friend, and hid her blind face in the folds of 
her dress. 

"Great Power!" exclaimed her father, smitten at one 
blow with the truth, " have I deceived her from her cradle, 
but to break her heart at last ! " 

It was well for all of them that Dot, that beaming, useful, 
busy little Dot— for such she was, whatever faults she had ; 
however you may learn to hate her, in good time— it was 
well for all of them, I say, that she was there ; or where this 
would have ended, it were hard to tell. But Dot, recovering 
her self-possession, interposed, before May could reply, or 
Caleb say another word. 

" Come, come, dear Bertha ! come away with me ! Give 
her your arm. May. So ! How composed she is, you see, 
already ; and how god it is of her to mind us," said the 
cheery little woman, kissing her upon the forehead. " Come 
away, uoar Bertha ! Come ! and here's her good father will 
come with her ; won't you, Caleb ? To— be— sure ! " 

Well, well ! she was a noble little Dot in such things, and 
it must have been an obdurate nature that could have with- 
stood her influence. When she had got poor Calt^b and his 
Bertha away, that they might comfort and console each 
other, as she knew they only could, she presently came 
bouncing back— the saying is, as fresh as any daisy ; / say 
fresher — to mount guard over that bridling little piece of 
consequence in the cap and gloves, and prevent the dear 
old creature from making discoveries. 

" So bring me the precious Baby, Tilly," said she, drawing 
a chair to the fire; "and while I have it in my lap, here's 
Mrs. Fielding, Tilly, will tell me all about the management 



! f 



* J 



* # 



n I 



136 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

of Babies, and put me right in twenty points where I'm as 

wrong as can be. Won't you, Mrs. Fielding ? " 

Not even the Welsh Giant, who, according to the popular 
expression, was so "slow" as to perform a fatal surgical 
operation upon himself, in emulation of a juggling-frick 
achieved by his arch-enemy at breakfast time-not even he 
tell half so readily into the Snare prepared for him, as the 
old lady into this artful Pitfall. The fact of Tackleton hav- 
ing walked out; and furthermore, of two or three people 
having been talking together at a distance, for two minutes 
leaving her to her own resources; was quite enough to have 
put her on her dignity, and the bewailment of that mysterious 
convulsion m the Indigo trade, for four-and-twenty hours. 
Bu this becoming deference to her experience, on the part 
of the young mother, was so irresistible, that after a short 
affectation of humility, she began to enlighten her with the 
best grace m the world ; and sitting bolt upright before the 
wicked Dot, she did, m half an hour, deliver more infallible 
domestic recipes and precepts, than would (if acted on) have 

t"hl I u^fTu ^"^ T^°"^ "P ^^^^ ^'«""g Peerybingle, 
though he had been an Infant Samson. J' 5 > 

To change the theme, Dot did a little needlework— she 
carriea the contents of a whole workbox in her pocket ; how 
ever she contrived it, /don't know-then did a little nursing • 
w \u^i^^ more needlework ; then had a little whispering 
chat w. h May, while the old lady dozed ; and so, in little bift 
ot bustle, which was quite her manner always, found it a verv 
short afternoon Then, as it grew dark, and as it was a 
solemn part of this Institution of the Pic-Nic that she should 
perform all Bertha's household tasks, she trimmed the fire 
and swept the hearth, and set the tea-board out, and drew 
the curtain, and lighted a candle. Then she played an air 

?nVr.r ^ l^'^f ^'"l^ ^^^^'T'' ^^'^h Caleb had contrived 
for Bertha, and played them very well ; for Nature had made 
her delicate little ear as choice a one for music as it would 
have been for jewels, if she had had any to wear. By this 
time It was the established hour for having tea; and Tackle- 
ton came back again, to share the meal, and spend the 
evening. ^ 

Caleb and Bertha had returned some time before, and 



I, "■»■' 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 1 37 

Caleb had sat down to his afternoon's work. But he couldn't 
settle to it, poor fellow, being anxious and remorseful for his 
daughter. It was touching to see him sitting idle on his 
working-stool, regarding her so wistfully, and always saying 
111 his face, " Have I deceived her from her cradle, but to 
break her heart ! " 

When it was night, and tea was done, and Dot had nothing 
more to do in washing up the cups and saucers ; in a word 
—for I must come to it, anr' there is no use in putting it 
off— when the time drew nigh for expecting the Carrier's 
return in every sound of distant wheels, her manner changed 
again, her colour came and went, and she was ver} restless. 
Not as good wives are, when listening for their husbands. 
No, no, no. It was another sort of restlessness from that. 

Wheels heard. A horse's feet. The barking of a dog. 
The gradual approach of all the sounds. The scratching 
paw of Boxer at the door ! 

" Whose step is that ? " cried Bertha, starting up. 

"Whose step?" returned the Carrier, standing in the 
portal, with his brown face ruddy as a wmter berry from the 
keen night air. "Why, mme." 

"The other step," said Bertha. " The man's tread behind 
you ! " 

"She is not to be deceived," observed the Carrier, laugh- 
ing. " Come along, sir. You'll be welcome, never fear ! " 

He spoke in a loud tone ; and as he spoke, the deaf old 
gentleman entered. 

" He's not so much a stranger, that you haven't seen him 
once, Caleb," said the Carrier. "You'll give him house- 
room till we go ? " 

"Oh, surely, John ; and take it as an honour." 

" He's the best company on earth, to talk secrets in," said 
John. " I have reasonable good lungs, but he tries 'em, I 
can tell you. — Sit down. Sir. All friends here, and glad to 
see you ! " 

When he had imparted this assurance, in a voice that 
amply corroborated what he had said about hiv lungs, he 
added in his natural tone, " A chair in the chimney-corner, 
and leave to sit quite silent and look pleasantly about him, is 
all he cares for. He's easily pleased" 



. 




I3» THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Bertha had been listening intently. She called Caleb to 
her side, when he had set the chair, and asked him, in a low 
voice, to describe their visitor. When he had done so (truly 
now, with scrupulous fidelity), she moved, for the first timj 
since he had come in, and sighed, and seemed to have no 
lurther interest concerning him. 

oJ)^ ^^'"'fj^f- '? ^'^^ 'P'"'^' go°^ bellow that he was, 
and fonder of his little wife than ever. 

"A clumsy Dot she was this afternoon!" he said, encir- 
cling her with his rough arm, as she stood removed from the 
rest ; and yet I like her somehow. See yond.r, Dot ' " 

He pointed to the old man. She looked down. I 'think 
she trembled. 

,, " J?^'^.~^^' ^^ ^* -'—he's full of admiration for you ' " said 
Wh k"^'- ''Talked of nothing else the whole way here. 
Why, he s a brave old boy. I like him for it ' » 

"I wish he had had a better subject, John," she said, 
with an uneasy glance about the room— at Tackleton especi- 

" A better subject ! " cried the jovial John. " There's no 
such thing Come ! off with the greatcoat, off with the 
thick shawl, off with the heavy wrappers ! and a cozy half- 
hour by the fire! My humble service, Mistress. A game 
at cribbage, you and I? That's hearty. The cards and 

smaU 'wi?e ! " "" ^^^' ""^ ^"'' ^''"' '^ '^''''' ^">' ^'^'^ 

, His challenge was addressed to the old lady, who accept- 
ing It with gracious readiness, they were soon engaged upon 
the game. At first, the Carrier looked about him sometimes 
with a smile, or now and then called Dot to peep over his 
^oulder at his hand, and advise him on some knotty point 
But his adversary being a rigid disciplinarian, and subject to 

Z.''ITZ7\'''^^^''^-'T '"T"".' ?^P'^ggi"g ^ore thin she 
was entitled to, required such vigilance on his part, as left 

him neither eyes nor ears to spare. Thus his whole atten- 

lon gradually became absorbed upon the cards ; and he 

thought of nothing else, until a hand upon his shoulder 

restored him to a consciousness of Tackleton. 

"I am sorry to disturb you— but a word, directly." 

1 m gomg to deal," returned the Carrier. " It's a crisis." 



m 
a.' 
th 
ar 
sc 
I k 
at 



139 



> to 
low 

ruly 

irriL* 

no 

ms, 

cir- 
thf 

ink 

lid 
:re. 

id, 
ci- 
ne 
he 
ilf- 
ne 
id 
ft, 

3t- 

m 
es 
lis 
It. 
to 
le- 
ft 
n- 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"It is," said 'f ackleton. « Come here, man ! » 
j There was that in his pale face which made the other rise 

""'"^Hn'^M^'l'S^ 'p ^'"t- '" ^ ^"^^' ^^^^^ '^- matter wa" 

Hushl Johri Peerybmgle," said 'J ackleton. »I am 
sorry for this I am indeed. I have been afraid of it. 1 
have !,t :pected it from the first " 

•• Hu.'h i' rn" f ^""^ ^J^^^^arrier, with a frightened aspect. 
Hush f I U show you, if you'll come with me." 

Ihe earner accompanied him without another word 
Ihey ^-ent across a >;ard, where the stars were shining, and 
by a Ittle side door into Ta:kk.t.n's own counting-house, 
>vhcre there was a glass window commanding the wareroom 
wh.ch was closed for the night. There was'no light in the 
counting-house itself, but there were lamps in^he long 
narrow wareroom and consequently the window was bright. 
A moment ! " said Tackleton. - Can you bear to look 
through that window, do you think?" 

" Why not ? " returned the Carrier 
. " A moment more," said Tackleton. « Don't commit any 
volence. It's of no use. It's dangerous too. You're a 

know^it"^ "'''"' ^"'^ ^'"" ""'^^^ '^'^ ^"''^^' ^^^°'^ y°" 

The carrier looked him in the face, and recoiled a 3tep as 

f he had been struck. In one stride he was at the window, 

and lie saw — ' 

Oh, Shadow on the Hearth ! Oh, truthful Cricket ! Oh. 
perfidious W ife ! ' 

He saw her, with the old man ; old no longer, but erect 
and gallant, bearing m his hand the false white hair that 
had won his way into their desolate and miserable home.' 
rte saw her listening to him, as he bent his head to whisnei 
m her ear ; and suffering him to clasp her round the waist, 
as they moved slowly down the dim wooden gallery towards 
the door by which they had entered it. He saw them stop 
and saw her turn-to have the face, the face he loved so 
presented to his 'view I-and saw her, with her owri 
hands, adjust the Lie upon his head, laughing, as she did it, 
at his unsuspicious nature ! 

He clenched his strong right hand at first, as if it would 
have beaten down a lion. But opening it immediately again, 



r. 



H 



I 



I40 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH 



he spread it out before the eyes of Tackleton (for he was 
tender of her, even then), and so, as they passed out, fell 
down upon a desk, and was as weak as any infant. 

He was wrapped up to the chin, and busy with his horst 
and parcels, when she came into the room, prepared kn 
going home. 

"Now, John dear! Good-night, May! Good-night, 
Bertha ! " 

Could she kiss them ? Could she be blithe and cheerful 
m her parting? Could she venture to reveal her face to 
them without a blush? Yes. Tuckleton observed her 
closely, and she did all this. 

Tilly was hushing the Baby, and she crossed and re- 
crossed Tackleton a dozen times, repeating drowsily, 

"Did the knowledge that it wa.s to be its wifes, then, 
\yrmg its hearts almost to breaking; and did its fathers 
decc It from its cradles, but to break its hearts at bst ! " 

" Now, Tilly, give me the Baby. Good-night, Mr. Tackle- 
ton. Where's John, for Goodness sake ? " 

" He's going to walk beside the horse's head," said Tackle- 
ton, who helped her to i.. r seat. 

"My dear John. V/..k? To-night?" 

The muffled figure of her husband made a hasty sign in 
the affirmative ; and the false Stranger and the little nurse 
being m their places, the old horse moved oflf— Boxer, the 
unconscious Boxer, running on before, running back, running' 
round and round the cart, and barking as triumphantly and 
merrily as ever. 

When Tackleton had gone off likewise, escorting May and 
her mother home, poor Caleb sat down by the tire beside 
his daughter, anxious and remorseful at the core, and still 
saying in his wistful cc ntemplation of her, " Have I deceived 
her from her cradle, but to break her heart at last ! " 

The toys that had been set in motion for the Baby had all 
stopped and run down long ago. In the faint light and silence, 
the imperturbably calm dolls, the agitated rocking-horses witli 
distended eyes and nostrils, the old gentlemen at the street 
doors, standing, half doubled up, upon their failing knees and 
ankles, the wry-faced nut-crackers, the very Beasts upon 
their way into the Ark, in twos, like a Boarding-School out 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 141 

walking, might have been imagined to be; stricken n.ot.onlcss 
with fantastic wonder at Dot being false, or Tackleton be- 
luved, under any combination of circumstances. 



CHIRP THE THIRD. 

Thk Dutch clock in the corner struck Ten when the Carrier 

sat down by his fireside; so troubled and griefwoin that 

h- seemed to scare the Cuckoo, who, having cut his ten 



he 



- — — --^ — ^^ ...iw, ii,i»uij^ i,ui Ills len 
melodious announcements as short as possible, plunged back 
into the Moorish Palace again, and clapped his little tloor 
behmct him, as if the unwonted spectacle were too much for 

ins feelings. 

i If the little Haymaker had been armed with the sharpest 
of scythes, and had cut at every stroke into the Carrier's 
heart he never could have gashed and wounded it as Dot 
had done. 

It was a heart so full of love for her, so bound up and 
held together by innumerable threads of winnins,^ remem- 
brance, spun from the daily working of her many equalities of 
Liidearment ; it was a heart in which she had enshrined her- 
self so gently and so closely, a heart so single and so earnest 
in its Truth^so strong in right, so weak 'in wrong— that it 
could cherish neither passion nor revenue at first, and had 
only room >ld the broken image of its Idol. 

But slowi^, slowly, as the Carrier sat brooding on his 
hearth, now cold and dark, other and fiercer thoughts began 
to nse withm him, as an angrv wind conies rising in the 
night. The Stranger was beneath his outraged roof. Three 
steps would take him to his chamber door. One blow would 
beat It in. " You might do Murder before you know it " 
Tackleton had said. How could it be Murder, if he gave 
the Villain time to grapple with him hand to hand? He 
was the younger man. 

It was an ill-timed thought, bad for the dark mood of his 
mmd._ It was an angry thought, goading him to som.^ 
avenging act that should change the cheerful house into a 
haunted place which lonely travellers would dread to pass 
by night, and where the timid would see shadows struggling 



{ V 



fir 



1 

i 4 



y 11 



143 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

in the ruined window when the moon was dim, and hear 
wild noises in the stormy weather. 

He was the younger man ! Yes, yes ; some lover who 
had won the heart that he had never touched Some lover ot 
her early choice, of whom she had thought and dreamed, for 
whom she had pined and pined, when he had fancied her so 
happy by his side. Oh, agony to think of it ! 

She had been above stairs with the Baby, getting it to 
bed. As he sat brooding on the hearth, she came close 
beside him, without his knowledge— in the turning of the 
rack of his great misery he lost all other sounds— and put 
her little stool at his feet. He only knew it when he felt 
her hand upon his own, and saw her looking up into his 
face. 

With wonder? No. It was his first impression, and he 
was fam to look at her again to set it right. No, not with 
wonder. With an eager and inquiring look, but not with 
wonder. At first it was alarmed and serious; then it 
changed into a strange, wild, dreadful smile of recognition 
of his thoughts; then there was nothing but her clasped 
hands on her brow, and her bent head, and falling hair. 

Though the power of Omnipotence had been his to wield 
at that moment, he had too much of its Diviner prrjperty of 
Mercy in his breast to have turned one feather's weight of 
it against her. But he could not bear to see her crouching 
down upon the little seat where he had often looked on ha 
with love and pride, so innocent and gay; and when she 
rose and left him, sobbing as she went, he felt it a relief to 
have the vacant place beside him rather than her so lonq 
cherished presence. This in itself was anguish keener than 
all, remmding him how desolate he was become, and how 
the great bond of his life was rent asunder. 

The more he felt this, and the more he knew he could 
have better borne to see her lying prematurely dead before 
him with their little child upon her breast, the higher and 
the stronger rose his wrath against his enemy. He looked 
about him for a weapon. 

There was a Gun hanging on the wall. He took it down, 
and moved a pace or two towards the door of the perfidious 
Stranger": room. He knew the Gun was loaded Some 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 143 

shadowy idea that it was just to shoot this man like a Wild 
Beast seized him, and dilated in his mind until it grew into 
a monstrous demon in complete possession of him, casting 
out all milder thoughts, and setting up its undivided empire 
I hat phrase is wrong. Not casting out his milder thoughts, 
but artfully transforming them. Changing them into scourges 
to drive him on. Turning water into blood. Love into hate, 
Gentleness into blind ferocity. Her image, sorrowing, hum- 
bled, but still pleading to his tenderness and mercy with re- 
sistless power, never left his mind ; but staying there, it urged 
him to the door, raised the weapon to his shoulder, fitted 
and nerved his finger to the trigger, and cried, "Kill him! 
in nis lied ! 

He reversed the C.un to beat the stock upon the door • 
he already held it lifted in the air; some indistinct design 
was in his thoughts of calling out to him to fly, for God's 
sake, by the window — 

When, suddenly, the struggling fire illumined the whole 
chimney wth a glow of light, and the Cricket on the Hearth 
began to chirp ! 

No sound he could have heard— no human voice, not 
even hers— could so have moved and softened him The 
artless words in which she had told him of her love for this 
same Cricket were once more freshly spoken ; her trembling 
earnest manner at the moment was again before him • her 
pleasant voice— oh, what a voice it was for making household 
music at the fireside of an honest man !— thrilled through and 
through his better nature, and awoke it into life and action. 

He recoiled from the door like a man walking in his sleep 
awakened from a frightful dream, and put the Cun asid^ 
Uasping his hands before his face, he then sat down again 
beside the fire, and found relief in tears. 

The Cricket on the Hearth came out into the room, and 
stood in Fairy shape before him. 

'* ' I love it,'" said the Fairy Voice, repeating what he well 
remembered ";for the many times I have heard it, and the 
rnany thoughts its harmless music has given me. 

" She said so ! " cried the Carrier. •' True ! " 



J M 



« (' 



'This has been a happy Home, John; and I love the 
Lncket for its sake ! ' " 



Jji 



144 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



; * 



iiL 



" It has been, Heaven knows," returned the Carrier. " She 
made it happy always — until now." 

"So gracefully sweet-tempered; so domestic, joyful, busy, 
and light-hearted I " said the Voice. 

"Otherwise I never could have loved her as I did," 
returned the Carrier. 

The Voice, correcting him, said " do." 

The Carrier repeated "as I did." But not firmly. His 
faltering tongue resisted his control, and would speak in its 
own way, for itself and him. 

The Figure, in an attitude of invocation, raised its hand 
and said, — 

" Upon your own hearth " 

"The hearth she has blighted," interposed the Carrier. 

"The hearth she has — how often ! — blessed and brightened," 
said the Cricket; "the hearth which, but for her, were only a 
few stones and bricks and rusty bars, but which has been, 
through her, the Altar of your Hone : on which you have 
nightly sacrificed some petty passion, selfishness, or care, 
and offered up the homage of a tranquil mind, a trusting 
nature, and an overflowing heart, so that the smoke from 
this poor chimney has gone upward with a better fragrance 
than the richest incense that is burned before the richest 
shrines in all the gaudy Temples of this World ! — Upon 
your own hearth, in its quiet sanctuary, surrounded by its 
gentle influences and associations, hear her ! Hear me ! 
Hear everything that speaks the language of your hearth 
and home ! " 

" And pleads f-^r her ? " inquired the Carrier. 

"All things that speak the language of your hearth and 
home must plead for her ! " returned the Cricket. " For they 
speak the Truth." 

And while the Carrier, with his head upon his hands, con- 
tinued to sit meditating in his chair, the Presence stood 
beside him, suggesting its reflections by its power, and pre- 
senting them before him, as in a Glass or Picture. It was 
not a solitary Presence. From the hearthstone, from the 
chimney; from the clock, the pipe, the kettle, and the 
cradle ; from the floor, the walls, the ceiling, and the stairs ; 
from the cart without, and the cupboard within, and the 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 145 

household implements; from everything and every place 
with which she had ever been familiar, and with which she 
had ever entwined one recollection of herself in her un- 
happy husband's mind, Fairies came trooping forth. Not to 
stand beside him, as the Cricket did, but to busy and bestir 
["^"jselves. To do all honour to Her image. To pull him 
by the skirts, and point to it when it appeared. To cluster 
round it, and embrace it, and strew flowers for it to tread on. 
io try to crown its fair head with their tiny hands. To show 
that they were fond of it and loved it; and that there was 
not one ugly, wicked, or accusatory creature to claim know- 
ledge of it— none but their playful and approving selves. 

xlis thoughts were constant to her Image. It was always 
there. ' 

She sat plying her needle before the fire, and singing to 
herself. Such a blithe, thriving, steady little Dot! The 
faiiy figures turned upon him all at once, by one consent, 
with one prodigious concentrated stare, and seemed to say, 

Is this the light wife you are mourning for?" 
There were sounds of gaiety outside— musical instruments, 
and noisy tongues, and laughter. A crowd of young merry- 
makers came pouring in, among v'lom were May Fielding 
and a score of pretty girls. Dot \...s the fairest of them all ; 
as young as any of them too. They came to summon her 
to join their party. It was a dance. If ever little foot were 
made for dancing, hers was, surely. But she laughed and 
shook her head, and pointed to her cookery on the fire and 
her table ready spread, with an exulting defiance that ren- 
dered her more charming than she was before. And so she 
merrily dismissed them, nodding to her would-be partners, 
one by one, as they passed out, with a comical indifference! 
enough to make them go and drown themselves immediately 
if they were her admirers— and they must have been so, more 
or less ; they couldn't help it. And yet indifference was not 
her character. Oh, no ! for presently there came a certain 
Carrier to the door ; and bless her, what a welcome she be- 
stowed upon him ! 

Again the staring figures turned upon him all at once, and 
seemed to say, " Is this the wife who has forsaken you ? " 

A shadow fell upon the mirror or the picture — call it what 



r-^ 



'•* 



\\ 



146 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



11^ 



f 



i 

liif 




you will. A great shadow of the Stranger, as he first stood 
underneath their roof— covering its surface, and blotting out 
all other objects. But the nimble Fairies worked like Bees 
to clear it off again ; and Dot again was there— still bright 
and beautiful. 

Rocking her little Baby in its cradle, singing to it softly, 
and resting her head upon a shoulder which had its counter- 
part in the musing figure by which the Fairy Cricket stood. 

The night— I mean the real night, not going by Fairy 
clocks— was wearing now ; and in this stage of the Carrier's 
thoughts the moon burst out, and shone brightly in the sky. 
Perhaps some calm and quiet light had risen also in his mind, 
and he could think more soberly of what had happened. 

Although the shadow of the Stranger fell at intervals upon 
the Glass— always distinct, and big, and thoroughly defined 
— it never fell so dai^ly as at first. Whenever it appeared, 
the Fairies uttered a general cry of consternation, and plied 
their little arms and legs with inconceivable activity to rub 
it out. And whenever they got at Dot again, and showed 
her to him once more, bright and beautiful, they cheered in 
the most inspiring manner. 

They never showed her otherwise than beautiful and 
bright, for they were Household Spirits to whom Falsehood 
is annihilation ; and being so, what Dot was there for them 
but the one active, beaming, pleasant little creature who had 
been the light and sun of the Carrier's Home ! 

The Fairies were prodigiously excited when they showed 
her, with the Baby, gossiping among a knot of sage old 
matrons, and affecting to be wondrous old and matronly 
herself, and leaning in a staid, demure, old way upon her 
husband's arm, attempting— she ! such a bud of a little 
woman— to convey the idea of having abjured the vanities 
of the world in general, and of being the sort of person to 
whom it was no novelty at all to be a mother ; yet in the 
same breath, they showed her laughing at the Carrier for being 
awkward, and pulling up his shirt-collar to make him smart, 
and mmcmg merrily about that very room to teach him how 
to dance* 

They turned and stared immensely at him when they 
showed her with the Blind Girl; for though she carried 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 147 

cheerfulness and animation with her wheresoever she went 

un%nTr'°'' '"^"^"^-^ ^r ^'^'^ ^l""^"^^^'^ home helped 
.rLf V, "'"^. °''^'-- ^^^ ^""d Girl's love for her, Kd 
iff ..'" p' \"1 ^^'^'"^^ ^° ^^^^ ^^r o^-n good busy way 
fi iwl?^ ^t^^' thanks aside; her dexterous little arts for 
fill ng up each moment of the visit in doing something useful 
to the house, and really working hard whill feigning to make 
hohday ; her bountiful provision of those stanJng ddk^cts 
the Veal and Ham Pje and the bottles of Beer; her raS 
le face arrivmg at the door, and taking leave; the wonder- 
ful expression m her whole self, from her neat foot to the 

Z?h^. '' ^""^' ^^ ^-"'"S ^ P^^^ °^ the establishment-a 

h,? th l"'''^''^'"^^," '*' ^'h^^h '^ ^°"ld"'t be without,-all 

this the Fames revelled in, and loved her for. And once 

again they looked upon him all at once, appealingly, and 

seemed to say while some among them nestled in her^ress 

cl'fidTnt?''"' "'' ^''^ ^'^ '""''^ ^^° ^- b^t-y^^ yo- 

n,Jtfrfv,?^V"'^!; u *'''^^/.°'' *h"^^' ^" the long thoughtful 
^^h hir? '. r'^ u^' l"^ h'"^ '^"ing on her favourite seat, 
vvith her bent head, her hands clasped on her brow, her fall 

h?r thnrf. ^' ^ -1,'"'" ^'' ^^^t.^ ^"^ -hen they found 
her thus, hey neither turned nor looked upon him, but 
gathered close round her, and comforted and kissed her; 

to trn'nHV" one another to show sympathy and kindness 
to her, and forgot him altogether. 

Thus the night passed. The moon went down, the stars 
grew pale, the cold day broke, the sun rose. The Carrier 
still sat musmg m the chimney-comer. He had sat there 
?'• uf , V • ^"^ "P''" his hands, all night. All night the 
K^^l Cncket had been Chirp, Chirp, Chirping on he 
Hearth. Al night he had listened to its voice All night 
he household Fairies had been busy with him. All n |h 

Itn ^K . ^^" f'i^ble and blameless in the Glass, exclpt 
when that one shadow fell upon it. ^ 

He rose up when it was broad day, and washed and 
d essed himself. He couldn't go about his customar^ chee^ 
lir thTt~f ' wanted spirit for them ; but HaS 
the less, that it was Tackleton's wedding-day. and he had 
arranged to make his rounds by proxy. L Mought to 






I ^1 



148 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 




have gone merrily to church with Dot But such plans were 
at an end. It was their own wedding-day too. Ah ! how 
little he had looked for such a close to such a year ! 

The Carrier expected that Tackleton would pay him an 
early visit ; and he was right. He had not walked to and 
fro before his own door many minutes when he saw the Toy 
Merchant coming in hi's chaise along the road. As the chaise 
drew nearer, he perceived that Tackleton was dressed out 
sprucely for his marriage, and had decorated his horse's head 
with flowers and favours. 

The horse looked much more like a bridegroom than 
Tackleton, whose half-closed eye was more disagreeably ex- 
pressive than ever. But the Carrier took little heed of this. 
His thoughts had other occupation. 

"John Peerybingle ! " said Tackleton, with an air of con- 
dolence. " My good fellow, how do you find yourself this 
morning ? " 

" I havf had but a poor nighi. Master Tackleton," returned 
the Carrier shaking his head, " for I have been a good deal 
disturbed in my mind. But it's over now. Can you spare 
me half an hour or so, for some private talk ? " 

"I came on purpose," returned Tackleton, alighting. 
" Never mind the horse. He'll stand quiet enough, with the 
reins over this post, if you'll give him a mouthful of hay." 

The Carrier having brought it from his stable and set it 
before him, they turned into the house. 

" You are not married before noon," he said, " I think ? " 

" No," answered Tackleton. " Plenty of time, plenty of 
time." 

When they entered the kitchen, Tilly Slowboy was rapping 
at the Stranger's door, which was only removed from it by a 
few steps. One of her very red eyes (for Tilly had been crying 
all night long, because her mistress cried) was at the keyhole : 
and she was knocking very loud, and seemed frightened. 

"If you please, I can't make nobody hear," said Tilly, 
looking round. " I hope nobody ain't gone and been and 
died, if you please ! " 

This philanthropic wish Miss Slowboy emphasized with 
various new raps and kicks at the door, which led to n( 
loult whatever. 



an 
id 
oy 
se 
ut 
id 

in 
;x- 

is. 

n- 
lis 

id 

al 
re 

g- 
le 

it 



'49 



Shall I go ? " said Tackleton. « It's curious '• 
to hi:: ^Ir;:^^--^^^ ^- rrrrdoor,s.gned 

But he thoug^of trvW ^L'T ^1 '^ '? f ' '^" ^^^^ ^^P'y- 
opened easily, he Sd n t^^f ■''^ '^^ ^^°'"' ^"^^ ^« '^ 
came running ou! ag2n ' ^'^ '"' ^""' ^"' ^"^ soon 

The Carrier fu^^^^^^^^^^^^ the night. 

open'^^Ton'rsera^y^r'i'^^^^^ '' "^f ^'^ ^^-'s 

level with the garden • bn t T 7 / -^'l '^^ ^'"^^^^ O" a 
been some-sofe 7 '^e Eh ?^^ ''" "^'^^^ ^""^ 

whole person a shar^ twlf 'f 'k ''^'' ^"^ ^'' ^^^^' ^"d his 
truth out of hil ^ ""'''' ^ ^^ ^^ ^°"^d have screwed the 

"Make yourself easy," said the CamVr ««w 
that room last nieht wfthnnV L >^"^^f- He went into 

and no one has LntLd'^t s"Le hJ"'^ '^ ^fu^ ^^^"^ "^«' 
^^•ill- I'd go out glSlv at thr;^ ^^^^ ''^ ^'^ °^" ^ee 

house to house of Hf/if I couwTn ^f ^"^^^^ ^^^^ fr^'" 
had never come. But he h^cl. ^f^^"^" '^^ ^^'' '^^' ^^ 
done with him i » ""^ ^^ S^"^- ^d I have 

Ta:kX'Sg^^S'^ '^^ ^^^ °^ P-«y -"y/' said 

and Ird'hisXl" itE h'^H?^""' ^-'^ ''' ^-" too. 
proceeding. ^ ^'' ^"^"^ ^°^ ^^"^^ little time before 

-«trt1 ire^secl^tHL.^-!^ '^ ^^ ^^^^ "-^ wife 
,^Ajid tenderly," insinuated Tackleton. 

wouldn't have rathSr seen than fhL ?*u^r^^ "^ ^'g^t I 
-he world I wouMnrhattTatt had otowltl"' "^^'^ 
ton '?^'? ,? ^f "^ ^^ "^y ^"^Picions ^ways^' ^id Tackle- 
'on. And that has made me objectionable h^rrito"" 



r. 



T ( 






*r 



ISO 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



I I 



"But as you did show it me," pursued the Carrier, not 
minding him, "and as you saw her, my wife — my wife that 
I love " — his voice, and eye, and hand grew steadier and 
firmer as he repeated these words, evidently in pursuance of 
a steadfast purpose — "as you saw her at this disadvantage, it 
is right and just that you should also see with my eyes, and 
look into my breast, and know what my mind is, upon the 
subject. For it's settled," said the Carrier, regarding him 
attentively. " And nothing can shake it now." 

Tackleton muttered a few general words of assent, about 
its being necessary to vindicate something or other ; but he- 
was overawed by the manner of his companion. Plain and 
unpolished as it was, it had a something dignified and noble 
in it, which nothing but the soul of generous Honour dwell- 
ing in the man could have imparted. 

**I am a plain, rough man," pursued the Carrier, "with 
very little to recommend me. I am not a clever man, as you 
very well know. I am not a young man. I loved my little 
Dot, because I had seen her grow up, from a child, in her 
father's house ; because I knew how precious she was ; be- 
cause she had been my Life, for years and years. There'? 
many i ^n I can't compare with who never could have loved 
my litt e Dot like me, I think ! " 

He paused, and softly beat the ground a short time with 
his foot, before resuming, — 

"I often thought that though I wasn't good enough for 
her, I should make her a kind husband, and perhaps know 
her value better than another, and in this way I reconciled 
it to myself, and came to think it might be possible that we 
should be married. And in the end it came about, and we 
were married." 

" Hah ! " said Tackleton, with a significant shake of his 
head. 

" I had studied myself; I had had experience of myself; I 
knew how much I loved her, and how happy I should be," 
pursued the Carrier. " But 1 had not— I feel it now— suffi- 
ciently considered her." 

" To be sure," said Tackleton. " Giddiness, frivolity, 
fickleness, love of admiration I Not considered I All left 
out of sight I Hah ! " 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. I51 

'*You had best not interrupt me," said the Carrier, with 
Bome sternness, " till you understand me ; and you're wide 
of doing so. If, yesterday, I'd have struck that man down 
at a blow who dared to breathe a word against her, to-day 
I d set my foot upon his face, if he was my brother ! " 

The Toy Merchant gazed at him in astonishment. He 
went on in a softer tone. 

"Did I consider,** said the Carrier, "that I took her, at 
her age, and with her beauty, from her young companions, 
and the many scenes of which she was the ornament— in 
which she was the brightest little star that ever shone— to 
shut her up from day to day in my dull house, and keep my 
tedious company? Did I consider how little suited I was to 
her sprightly humour, and how wearisome a plodding man 
like me must be to one of her quick spirit ? Did I consider 
that It was no merit in me, or claim in me, that I loved her 
when everybody must who knew her? Never. I took 
advantage of her hopeful nature and her cheerful disposition, 
and I married her. I wish I never had !— for her sake, not 
for mine." 

The Toy Merchant gazed at him without winking. Even 
the half-shut eye was open now. 

" Heaven bless her ! " said the Carrier, " for the cheerful 
constancy with which she has tried to keep the knowledge 
of this from me! And Heaven help me that, in my slow 
mind, I have not found it out before ! Poor child ! Poor 
Dot ! / not to find it out, who have seen her eyes fill with 
tears, when such a marriage as our own was spoken of! I, 
\yho have seen the secret trembling on her lips a hundred 
times, and never suspected it, till last night! Poor giri! 
That I could ever hope she would be fond of me ! That I 
could ever believe she was ! " 

"She made a show of it," said Tackleton. "She made 
such a show of it that, to tell you the truth, it was the origin 
of my misgivings." 

And here he asserted the superiority of May Fielding, who 
certainly made no sort of show of being fond of him. 

"She has tried," said the poor Carrier, with greater emo- 
tion than he had exhibited yet; "I only now begin to know 
now hard she has tried to be my dutiful and zealous wifA 



i 



152 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

How good she has been, how much she has done, how brave 
and strong a heart she has, let the happiness I have known 
under this roof bear witness ! It will be some help and com- 
fort to me when I am here alone." 

"Here alone?" said Tackleton. "Oh I Then you do 
mean to take some notice of this ? " 

" I mean," returned the Carrier, " to do her the greatest 
kindness, and make her the best reparation, in my power. 
I can release her from the daily pain of an unequal marriage, 
and the struggle to conceal it. She shall be as free as I can 
render her." 

" Make y5«fr reparation I " exclaimed Tackleton, twisting and 
tummg his great ears w.th his hands. "There must be 
something wrong here. You didn't say that, of course." 

The Carrier set his grip upon the collar of the Toy 
Merchant, and shook, him like a reed. 

" Listen to me 1 " he said, " and take care that you hear 
me right. Listen to me. Do I speak plainly ? " 

" Very plainly indeed," answered Tackleton. 

" As if I meant it ? " 

" Very much as if you meant it" 

" I sat upon that hearth, last night, all night," exclaimed 
the Carrier— '^ on the spot where she has often sat beside me, 
with her sweet face looking into mine. 1 called up her whole 
life, day by day ; I had her dear self, in its every passage, 
m review before me. And upon my soul she is innocent, if 
there is One to judge the innocent and guilty ! " 

Stanch Cricket on the Hearth 1 Loyal household Fairies ! 

"Passion and distrust have left me!" said the Carrier, 
" and nothing but my grief remains. In an unhappy moment 
some old lover, better suited to her tastes and years than I— 
forsaken, perhaps, for me, against her will — returned. In an 
unhappy moment— taken by surprise, and wanting time to 
think of what she did— she made herself a party to his 
treachery by concealing it. Last night she saw him, in the 
interview we witnessed. It was wrong. But otherwise than 
this she is innocent, if there is Truth on earth." 

" If that is your opinion " Tackleton began. 

" So let her go ! " pursued the Carrier. " Go, with my 
blessing for the many happy hours she has given me, and 






U liL 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 1 53 

my forgiveness for any pang she has caused me. Let her go, 
and have the p 'ace of mind I wish her. She'll never hate 
me. She'll learn to like me better when I'm not a drag upon 
her, and she wears the chain I have riveted more lightly. 
This is the day on which I took her, with so little thought for 
her enjoyment, from her home. To-day she shall return to 
it, and I will trouble her no more. Her father and mother 
will be here to-day— we had made a little plan for keeping it 
together— and they shall take her home. I can trust her 
there, or anywhere. She leaves me without blame, and she 
will live so, I am sure. If I should die —I may, perhaps, 
while she is still young ; I have lost some courage in a few 
tir.urs— she'll find that I remembered her, and loved her to 
the iust. This is the end of what you showed me. Now, 
it's over." 

" Oh, no, John, not over. Do not say it's over yet ! Not 
quite yet. I have heard your noble words. I could not 
steal away, pretending to be ignorant of what has affected me 
with such deep gratitude. Do not say it's over, till the clock 
has struck again." 

She had entered shortly after Tackleton, and had remained 
there. She never looked at Tackleton, but fixed her eyes 
upon htr husband. But she kept away from him, setting as 
wide a space as possible between them ; and though she 

spoke with most impassioned earnestness, she went no 

to him even then. How different in this from her old se'f ! 

" No hand can make the clock which will strike agair for 
me the hours that are gone," replied the Carrier, with a aint 
smile. " But let it be so, if you will, my dear. It will ?.rike 
soon. Its of little matter what we say. I'd try to please 
you in a harder case than that." 

"Well," muttered Tackleton, «I must be off", for when 
the clock strikes again i* 'h be necessary for me to be upon 
my way to church. Good morning, John Peerybingle, Im 
s-rr)' to be deprived of the pleasure of your company. Sorry 
-or the loss, and the occasion of it, too." 

" I have spoken plainly ? " said the Carrier, accompanying 
(urn to the door. 

" Oh, quite ! " 

"And you'll remember what I have said' 



! 



s . - 



I V 



I 
I 

i ^1 






11 -f 
; - i a 



If 4 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTa 

t/'uY^^* ^ y°" *^°!"P®^ ™® '^ "»*^^e 'he observation," said 
lackleton, previously taking the precaution of getting into 
his chaise, I must say that it was so very unexpected that 
1 m far from being hkely to forget it." 

"The better for us both," returned the Carrier. "Good- 
Dye. I give you joy I " 

"I wish I could give it to^-w," said Tackleton. "As I 
cant, thankee. Between ourselves (as I told you before, 
eh?), I dont much think I shall have the less joy in my 
married life because May hasn't been too officious about me 
^^^^^^^^^^^^^s^f^t've. Good-bye ! Take care of yourself." 
• !u 5?^''"^^ s^o<^d looking after him until he was smaller 
m the distance than his horse's flowers and favours near at 
hand ; and then, with a deep sigh, went strolling like a rest- 
less, broken man among some neighbouring elms, unwilling 
to return until the clock was on the eve of striking. 

His little wife, being left alone, sobbed piteously : but 
often dned her eyes and checked herself, to say how good he 
was, how excellent he was ! and once or twice she laughed 
so heartily, triumphantly, and incoherently (still crying all 
the time), that Tilly was quite horrified. 

«0w if you please don't!" said Tilly. "It's enough to 

« wn "^ ^^^ ^""^y' '° '^ '*^' '^ y°" please." 
^ Will you bring hira sometimes to see his father, Tilly " 
mqmred her mistress, drying her eyes, "when I can't li 
here, and have gone to my old home ? " 

" Ow if you please don't ! " cried Tilly, throwing back . er 
head, and bursting out into a howl— she looked at the moment 
uncommonly like Boxer—'' Ow if you please don't ' Ow 
what has everybody gone and been and done with everybody! 
making everybody else so wretched I Ow-w-w-w ! " 

The soft-hearted Slowboy trailed off at this juncture into 
such a deplorable howl, the more tremendous from its long 
suppression that she mi ■ infallibly have awakened the 
Baby,^and frightened him into something serious (probably 
convUiSionsXif her eyes had not encountered Caleb Plunimer 
leading m his daughter. This spectacle restoring her to a 
sense of the proprieties, she stood for some few moments 
siient, With her mouth wide open ; and then, posting off to 
the bed on which the Baby lay asleep, danced in a weird, 



THE CRICKEr ON THE HEARTH. 155 

Saint Vitus manner on the floor, and at the same time rum- 
maged wuh her face and head among the bedclothes, appar- 
en y deriving much relief from those extraordinary operations. 
;; Mary 1 "said Bertha. " Not at the marriage ! " 

r T i ur^^ y?" "^""^"^ "°^ ^^ there, Mum," whispered 
Caleb I heard as niuch last night. But, bless you," said 
the little man, taking her tenderly by both hands, "/don't 
care for what they say ; I don't believe them. There ain't 
much of me, but that little should be torn to pieces sooner 
than I d trust a word against you I " 

He put his arms about her neck and hugged her. as a 
child might have hugged one of his own dolls 

"Bertha couldn't stay at home this morning," said Caleb. 
She was afraid I know, to hear the bells ring, and couldn't 
trust herself to be so near them on their wedding-day. So 
we started m good time, and came here. I have been think- 
ing of what I have done," said Caleb, after a moment's pause : 
I have been blaming myself till I hardly knew what to do 
or where to turn, for the distress of mind I have caused her- 
and I ve come to the conclusion that I'd better, if you'll stay 
with me, Mum, the while, tell h jr the truth. You'll stay with 
me the while?" he inquired, trembling from head to foot. 
1 don t know what effect it may have upon her : I don't 
know what she'll think of me; I don't know that she'll ever 
T"" ?' ^7,.P°°'' ^^^^^^ afterwards. But it's best for her that 
Is I de°sei^ » ""^^''^'''^^ ' ^"^ ^ """'t ^^^^ the consequences 

"Mary,;' said Bertha, "where is your hand? Ah! here 
it is. here it is " pressing it to her lips with a smile, and draw- 
ing It through her arm. « I heard them speaking softly 
among themselves, last night, of some blame against yoii 
1 hey were wrong." ^ ^ 

The Carrier's wife was silent. Caleb answered for her. 
rhey were wrong," he said. 

I r^ ^""aZ V" """^^ ^^"^^^ P^°"^^>'- "I told them so. 
L "^li ^? ^'T. "" '^'''■^- ^^^"^^ ^'^ ^ith justice ! "-she 
pressed the hand between her own, and the sofc cheek against 
her face. " No 1 I am not so blind as that." 

nr^^lu'^^^u ''?^?•" °!'^ ''^^ °^ h^'"' ^hile Dot remained 
upon the other, holding her hand. 



lii 



\l I i 



156 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

"I know you all," said Bertha, "better than you think. 
But none so well as her. Not even you, father. There is 
nothing half so real and so true about me as she is. If I 
could be restored to sight this instant, and not a word wcrt 
spoken, I could choose her from a crowd I My Sister ! " 

" Bertha, my dear ! " said Caleb, " I have something on my 
mind I want to tell you while we three are alone. Hear me 
kindly ! I have a confession to make to you, my Darling." 

" A confession, father ? " 

" I have wandered from the Truth and lost myself, my 
child," said Caleb, with a pitiable expression in his bewildert d 
face. "I have wandered from tlv.. r'uth, intending to be 
kind to you ; and have been crueL ' 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him, and 
repeated, " Cruel ! " 

" He accuses himself too strongly, Bertha," said Dot. 
"You'll say so presently. You'll be the first to tell him so.' 

"He cruel 10 mel" cried Bertha, with a smile of in- 
creduliiy, 

"Not ni leaning it, my child," said Caleb. "But I have 
been ; though I never suspected it till yesterday. My dear 
Blind Daughter, hear me, and forgive me ! The world you 
live in, heart of mine, doesn't exist as I have represented it. 
The eyes you have trusted in have been false to you." 

She turned her wonder-stricken face towards him still ; 
but drew back, and clung closer to her friend. 

"Your road in life was rough, my poor one," said Caleb, 
" and I moant to smooth it for you. I have altered objects, 
changed the characters of people, invented many things tluit 
never have been, to make you happier. I have had conceal- 
ments from you, put deceptions on you, God forgive me ! 
and surrounded you with fancies." 

" But living people are not fancies ? " she said hurriedly, 
and turning very pale, and still retiring from him. "You 
can't change them." 

•' I have done so. Bertha," pleaded Caleb. " There is one 
person that you know, my Dove " 

" Oh, father ! why do you say I know ? " she answered, in 
a tone of keen reproach. "What and whom do /know? 
I who have no leader I I so miserably blind 1 " 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 157 

In the anguish of her heart, she stretched out her hands 
as If she were gropmg her way ; then spread them, in a manl 
ner most forlorn and sad, upon her face 

" I he marriage that takes place to-day," said Caleb " is 
^v.th a stern, sordid, grinding man. A hard master to you 

? I K- ^""^"^ ^""^ "^^'^'^"^ ""^''-^y^' Unlike what I have 
painted h,m to you m everything, my child-in everything." 

1 h^^K ^"!^ ^^^ ^''"^ ^^'^>' tortured, as it seemed 
almost beyond endurance-" why did you ever do this ! Wlw 
dul you ever fill my heart so full, and then come in like Death! 

bimd 1 am ! How helpless and alone ' » 

Her afflicted father hung his head, and offered no reply 
but m his penitence and sorrow. * ^ 

She had been but a short time in this passion o( reeret 

To chirn' ^k\'' °" '-^ "k^^"'".^' ""^^^^^ ^>' ^» ^Ut her, began 

t w^ so mournful that her tears bc-gan to flow; and when 

the Presence which had been beside the CarriJr all nigh" 

liKn ' ^'"^'"^ ^° ^^' ^^^^^'■' ^^^y ^^" ^°^" 

She heard the Cricket-voice more plainly soon, and was 
ZTrrVitr'' ''' ''"'"^^^' ^^ ''^ ^''— ^--"g 

whIt'JtTiilyl' ^'^ ^""' '^'^^' "^^" "'^ ^'^^^ ->• ^«-^ -- 
Timlin ^ P°n' P^'^^^',^^^^^' ver)' poor and bare indeed. 

winter ? •'' ''"'m^^ u'T, °"' ^'"^ ^"^ ^^'" ^noth.r 
r I • '^ as roughly shielded from the weather. Bertha " 

in hisrsth it.''^^' ''''' ^^'^^' "^'^ ^^"^ p-^ ^-^- 

littl^^fj asld?.''^' ^''^'''^^' ""^''^'^^ '"''"' ""^ '^ '^^ ^^^^^^« 

"Those presents that I took such r.qre of— that came 

almost at my wish, and were so deariy welcome to me," she 

"No." 
"Who then?" 



fl 



PT 



^i 



sffl 



kl-U'4 



i i 



158 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

Dot saw she knew already, and was silent. The Blind 
Girl spread her hands before her face again. But in quite 
another manner now. 

" Dear Mary, a moment. One moment ! More this way. 
Speak softly to me. You are true, I know. You'd not 
deceive me now ; would you ? " 

" No, Bertha, indeed ! " 

"No, I am sure you would not. You have too much pity 
for me. Mary, look across the room to where we were just 
now — to where my father is — my father, so compassionate 
and loving to me — and tell me what you see." 

"I see," said Dot, who understood her well, "an old man 
sitting in a chair, and leaning sorrowfully on the back, with 
his face resting on his hand — as if his child should comfort 
him. Bertha." 

" Yes, yes. She will. Go on." 

" He is an old man, worn with care and work. He is a 
spare, dejected, thoughtful, grey-haired man. I see him now, 
despondent and bowed down, and striving against nothing. 
Bu^ Bertha, I have seen him many times before, and striving 
hard in many ways for one great sacred object. And I honour 
his grey head, and bless him ! " 

The Blind Girl broke away from her, and throwing her- 
self upon her knees before him, took the grey head to her 
breast. 

" It is my sight restored. It is my sight ! " she cried. " I 
have been blind, and now my eyes are open. I never knew 
him ! To think I might have died, and never truly seen the 
father who has been so loving to me ! " 

There were no words for Caleb's emotion. 

"There is not a gallant figure on this earth," exclaimed 
the Blind Girl, holding him in her embrace, "that I would 
love so dearly, and would cherish so devotedly, as this ! The 
greyer and more worn, the dearer, father ! Never let them 
say I am blind again. There's not a furrow in his face, 
there's not a hair upon his head, that shall be forgotten in 
my prayers and thanks to Heaven ! " 

Caleb managed to articulate, " My Bertha ! " 

"And in my Blindness, I believed him," said the girl, 
caressing him with tears of exquisite affection, "to be sc 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 1 59 

different ! And having him beside me, day by day, so mind- 
ful of me always, never dreamed of this I " 

"The fresh smart father in the blue coat. Bertha," said 
poor Caleb. " He's gone ! " 

" Nothing is gone," she answered. " Dearest father, no ! 
Everything is here— in you. The father that I loved so well ) 
the father that I never loved enough, and never knew ; the 
Benefactor whom I first began to reverence and love, because 
he had such sympathy for me : All are here in you. Nothing 
is dead to me. The Soul of all that was most dear to me is 
here— here, with the worn face and the grey head. And I 
am NOT blind, father, any longer ! " 

Dot's whole attention had been concentrated, during this 
discourse, upon the father and daughter ; but looking now 
towards the little Haymaker in the Moorish meadow, she 
saw that the clock was within a few minutes of striking, and 
fell immediately into a nervous and excited state. 

" Father," said Bertha, hesitating. " Mary." 

" Yes, my dear," returned Caleb. " Here she is." 

" There is no change in her. You never told me anything 
of her that was not true ? " 

" I should have done it, my dear, I am afraid," returned 
Caleb, " if I could have made her better than she was. But 
I must have changed her for the worse, if I had changed her 
at all. Nothing could improve her. Bertha." 

Confident as the Blind Girl had been when she asked the 
question, her delight and pride in the reply, and her renewed 
embrace of Dot, were charming to behold. 

" More changes than you think for may happen though, 
my dear," said Dot. "Changes for the better, I mean; 
changes for great joy to some of us. You mustn't let them 
startle you too much, if any such should ever happen, and 
affect you? Are those wheels upon the road? You've a 
quick ear, Bertha, Are they wheels ? " 

" Yes. Coming very fast." 

" I— I— I know you have a quick ear," said Dot, placing 
her hand upon her heart, and evidently talking on, as fast 
as she could, to hide its palpitating state, " because I have 
noticed it often, and because you were so quick to find out 
that strange step last night Though why you should have 



{ 



\K3 



if^. 



i6o 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



ilLL 



said, as I very well recollect you did say, Bertha, 'Whose 
step is that ? ' and why you should have taken any greater 
observation of it than of any other step, I don't know. 
Though, as I said just now, there are great changes in the 
world— great changes— and we can't do better than prepare 
ourselves to be surprised at hardly anything." 

Caleb wondered what this meant, perceiving that she 
spoke to him, no less than to his daughter. He saw her, 
with astonishment, so fluttered and distressed that she could 
scarcely breathe, and holding to a chair to save herself from 
falling. 

" They are wheels indeed ! " she panted ; " coming nearer ! 
Nearer ! Very close ! And now you hear them stopping at 
the garden gate ! And now you hear a step outside the door 

—the same step. Bertha, is it not ?— and now ! " 

She uttered a wild cry of uncontrollable delight; and 
running up to Caleb put her hands upon his eyes, as a young 
man rushed into the room, and flinging away his hat into 
the air, came sweeping down upon them. 
" Is it over ? " cried Dot 
"Yes!" 

" Happily over ? " 
"Yesl" 

"Do you recollect the voice, dear Caleb? Did you ever 
hear the like of it before ? " cried Dot. 

" If my boy in the Golden South Americas was alive—" 
said Caleb, trembling. 

" He is alive ! " shrieked Dot, removing her hands from 
his eyes, and clapping them in ecstasy ; " look at him ! See 
where he stands before you, healthy and strong ! Your own 
dear son ! Your own dear living, loving brother, Bertha ! " 

All honour to ihe little creature for her transports I All 
honour to her tears and laughter, when the three were locked 
in one another's arms ! All honour to the heartiness with 
which she met the sunburnt Sailor-fellow, with his dark 
streaming hair, half way, and never turned her rosy little 
mouth aside, but suffered him to kiss it, freely, and to press 
her to his bounding heart 1 

And honour to the Cuckoo too — why not ? — for bursting 
out of the trap-door in the Moorish Palace like a house- 



hose 
iater 
low. 
the 
pare 

she 
her, 

DUld 

ironi 

rer! 
gat 
loor 

and 
ung 
into 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



I6l 



sver 



cm 

See 

>\vn 
» 

All 
ced 
'ith 
ark 
ttle 
ess 

ing 
se* 



breaker, and hiccoughing twelve times on the assembled 
company, as if he had got drunk for joy ! 

The Carrier, entering, started back— and well he might— 
to find himself in such good company. 

"Look, John!" said Caleb exultingly, "look here! My 
own boy from the Golden South Americas ! My own soii! 
Him that you fitted out, and sent away yourself— him that 
you were always such a friend to ! " 

The Carrier advanced to seize him by the hand ; but re- 
coiling, as some feature in his face awakened a remembrance 
of the Deaf Man in the Cart, said, — 
" Edward ! Was it you ? " 

" Now tell him all ! » cried Dot « Tell him all, Edward • 
and don t spare me, for nothing shall make me spare myself 
in his eyes ever again." 
" I was the man," said Edward. 

"And could you steal, disguised, into the house of your 
old friend ? " rejoined the Carrier. " There was a frank boy 
once— how many years is it, Caleb, since we heard that he 
was dead, and had it proved, we thought?— who never would 
nave done that." 

"There was a generous friend of mine once— more a 
Mather to me than a friend," said Edward— "who never 
would have judged me, or any other man, unheard. You 
were he. So I am certain you will hear me now." 

The Carrier, with a troubled glance at Dot, who still kept 
far away from him, replied, "Well ! that's but fair. I will " 

"You must know that when I left here, a boy," said 
iidward, " I was in love ; and my love was returned. She 
was a very young girl, who perhaps (you may tell me) didnt 

forTer "'" ^"^ "^'"^' "^"^ ^ ^"^"^ "^'"^ ' ^"^ ^ ^^^ ^ P^^'°" 
" You had ! " exclaimed the Carrier. " You ! " 
"Indeed I had," returned the other. "And she returned 

It I have ever since believed she did; and now I am sure 

she did." 

"Heaven help me!" said the Carrier. "This is worse 
cnan alL" 

"Constant to her," said Edward, "and returning, fuU of 
Qope, after many hardships and perils, to redeem my part of 



f 



M- ■ 



1 62 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



r 1 1 



our old contract, I heard, twenty miles away, that she was 
false to me — that she had forgotten me, and had bestowed 
herself u'pon another and a richer man. I had no mind to 
reproach her ; but I wished to see her, and to prove beyond 
dispute that this was true. I hoped she might have been 
forced into it, against her own desire and recollection. It 
would be small comfort, but it would be some, I thought. 
And on I came. That I might have the truth, the real truth ; 
observing freely for myself, and judging for myself, without 
obstruction on the one hand, or presenting my own influence 
(if I had any) before her, on the other ; I dressed myself un- 
like myself — you know how, and waited on the road — you 
know where. You had no suspicion of me ; neither had— 
had she," pointing to Dot, " until I whispered in her ear at 
that fireside, and she so nearly betrayed me." 

"But when she knew that Edward was alive, and had 
come back," sobbed Dot, now speaking for herself, as she 
had burned to do all through this narrative; "and when 
she knew his purpose, she advised him by all means to keep 
his secret close; for his old friend John Peerybingle was 
much too open in his nature, and too clumsy in all artifice 
— being a clumsy man in general," said Dot, half laughing 
and half crying — " to keep it for him. And when she- 
that's me, John," sobbed the little woman—" told him all 
and how his sweetheart had believed him to be dead ; and 
how she had at last been over-persuaded by her mother into 
a marriage which the silly, deai* old thing called advanta- 
geous ; and when she— that's me again, John— told him they 
were not yet married (though close upon it), and that it 
would be nothing but a sacrifice if it went on, for there was 
no love on her side; and when he went nearly mad with 
joy to hear it, then she— that's me again — said she would 
go between them, as she had often done before in old times, 
John, and would sound his sweetheart and be sure that what 
she — me again, John — said and thought was right. And it 
WAS right, John ! And they were brought together, John ! 
And they were married, John, an hour ago I And here's the 
Bride ! And Gruff and Tackleton may die a bachelor 1 And 
I'm a happy little woman, May, God bless you ! " 

She was an irresistible little woman, if that be anything to 



11. >,»■><- ■ 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. iG^ 

the purpose, and never so completely irresistible as in her 
present transports. There never were congratulations so 
endearing and delicious as those she lavished on herself 
and on the Bride. 

Amid the tumult of emotions in his breast, the honest 
Carrier had stood confounded. Flying, now, towards her. 
Dot stretched out her hand to stop him, and retreated as 
before. 

"No, John, no! Hear all! Don't love me any more, 
John, till you've heard every word I have to say. It was 
wrong to have a secret from you, John. I'm very sorry. I 
didn't think it any harm, till I came and sat down by you 
on the httle stool last night; but when I knew, by what was 
wntten in your face, that you had seen me walking in the 
gallery with Edward, and knew what you thought, I felt 
how giddy and how wrong it was. But oh, dear John, how 
could you, could you, think so ? " 

Little woman, how she sobbed again ! John Peerybingle 
would have caught her in his arms. But no ; she wouldn't 
let him. 

" Don't love me yet, please, John ! Not for a long time 
yet ! When I was sad about this intended marriage, dear, 
It was because I remembered May and Edward such young 
lovers, and knew that her heart was far away from Tackle- 
ton. You believe that, now. Don't you, John ? " 

John was going to make another rush at this appeal : but 
she stopped him again. 

"No ; keep there, please, John ! When I laugh at you, as 
I sometimes do, John, and call you clumsy, and a dear old 
goose, and names of that sort, it's because I love you, John, 
so well, and take such pleasure in your ways, and wouldn'^ 
see you altered in the least respect to have you made a King 
to-morrow." ^ 

"Hooroar!" said Caleb, with unusual vigour. "Mv 

opinion ! " 07 

"And when I speak of people beir.g middle-aged, and 

steady, John, and pretend that we are a humdrum couple, 

going on m a jog-trot sort of way, it's only because I'm such 

fa silly httle thing, John, that I like sometimes to act a kind 

of Play with Baby, and all that, and make-believe." 



r .'■ .; 



!!r" 



1^4 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 



She saw that he was coming, and stopped him again 
But she was very nearly too late 



No, don't love me for another minute _. , 

please, John ! What I want most to tell you, I have kep^ 
to the last My dear, good, generous John, when we were 
talking the other night about the Cricket, I had it on mv 
lips to say, that at first I did not love you quite so dearly 
as I do now ; that when I first came home here, I was hali 
afraid I mightn't learn to love you every bit as well as I 
hoped and prayed I might— being so very young, John. 
But, dear John, every day and hour I loved you more and 
more. And if I could have loved you better than Pdo, the 
noble words I heard you say this morning would have made 
me. But I can't. All the affection that I had (it was a great 
deal, John) I gave you, as you well deserve, long, long ago, 
and I have no more left to give. Now, my dear Husband 
take me to your heart again ! That's my home, John ; and 
never, never think of sending me to any other ! " 

You never will derive so much delight from seeing a 
glorious little woman in the arms of a third party, as you 
would have felt if you had seen Dot run into the Carriers 
embrace. It was the most complete, unmitigated, soul-fraugh; 
little piece of earnestness that ever you beheld in all you 
days. 

You may be sure the Carrier was in a state of perfect rap- 
ture ; and you may be sure Dot was likewise ; and you mav 
be sure they all were, inclusive of Miss Slowboy who cried 
copiously for joy, and, wishing to include her young charic 
m the general interchange of congratulations, handed round 
the Baby to everybody in succession, as if it were somethins 
to drink. 

But now the sound of wheels \,as heard again outside the 
door, and somebody exclaimed that Gruff and Tackleton 
was coming back. Speedily that worthy gentleman appeared, 
looking warm and flustered. 

" Why, what the Devil's this, John Peerybingle ! " said 
Tackleton. "There's some mistake. I appointed Mrs 
Tackleton to meet me at the church ; and I'll swear I passed 
her on the road, on her way here. Oh ! here she is ! I beg 
your pardon. Sir— I haven't the pleasure of knowing you— but 



t 

V 

I 

ti 

it 
I 



sc 
gi 



wl 
ha 
an 
bii 
qu 
fac 



igain 

f yo'j 

kept 

were 

n mv 

learly 

s hall 

as 1 

fohn. 

! and 

), the 

made 

great 

ago, 

sand. 

and 

ng 2 

yoi; 
rier'j 
LUgh: 
your 



rap- 
may 
:ried 
largc 
)unc 
hing 

; the 
eton 
ired, 

said 
Mrs. 

ssed 
be^ 
-but 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 165 

if you can do me the favour to spare this young lady, she has 
rather a particular engagement this morning." ^ 

think ofit.""^'' '^^ ^"■'" '^^"'"^^ ^'^^^'■^- "I couldn't 
I' What do you mean, you vagabond?" said Tackleton. 
1 mean, that as I can make allowance for your being 
vexed, returned the other, with a smile, " I am as dkf to ha "h 
d.scourse this mornmg as I was to all discourse last night " 

he gave r "^'"'"'' ^'''°"'^ "P°" ^^"^' ^"^ ^^e Lt 

"I am sorry, Sir," said Edward, holding out May's left 
hand, and especially the third finger. "that%he young lady 
cant accompany you to church; but as she has been there 
once, this morning, perhaps you'll excuse her." 
Tackleton looked hard at the third finger, and took a 

"Miss Slowboy," said Tackleton, "will you have the 
kindness to throw that in the fire? Thank'ee " 

" It was a previous engagement— quite an old engagement— 
that prevented my wife from keeping her appointment with 
you, I assure you," said Edward. ^"i wiin 

" Mr Tackleton will do me the justice to acknowledge that 

IrZ'i"'^ '' '° ^r. ^"''^^""y' ^"^ '^^' I ^old him, many 
time^ I never could forget it," said May, blushing. ^ 

Oh, certainly I "said Tackleton. " Oh, to be sure. Oh, 
Hnfer?"^ "^"''^ *'''"'^'^'- ^''- ^^^^'^ Plummer, 

''That's the name," returned the bridegroom. 
Ah ! I shouldn't have known you. Sir," said Tackleton 
scrutinizing his face nairowly, and making a low bow '^ 
give you joy, Sir I" ^ * * 

"Thank'ee." 

"Mrs Peerybingle," raid Tackleton, turning suddenly to 
where she stood with her husband, "I am sorry. You 
haven t done me a very great kindness, but upon my life I 
am Sony. You are better than I thought you. John Peery- 
bingle, I am sorry. You understand me ; that's enough It's 



i 
t ^1 



it i 
f f 



l66 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

With these «irords he carried it off, and carried himself off 
too— merely stopping at the door to take the flowers and 
favours from his horse's head, and to kick that animal once in 
the ribs, as a means of informing him that there was a screw 
loose in his arrangements. 

Of course it became a serious duty now to make such a 
day of It as should mark these events for a high Feast and 
Festival in the Peerybingle Calendar for evermore. Accord 
ingly Dot went to work to produce such an entertainment as 
should reflect undying honour on the house and every one 
concerned ; and in a very short space of time, she was up ' 
to her dimpled elbows in flour, and whitening the Carrier's 
coat, every time he came near her, by stopping him to give 
him a kiss. That good fellow washed the greens, and peeled 
the turnips, and broke the plates, and upset iron pots full of 
water on the fire, and made himself useful in all sorts of ways 
while a couple of professional assistants, hastily called in from 
somewhere m the neighbourhood, as on a point of life or 
death, ran against each other in all the doorways and round 
all the corners; and everybody tumbled over Tilly Slowbov 
and the Baby, everywhere. Tilly never came out in such 
force before. Her ubiquity was the theme of general ad 
miration. She was a stumbling-block in the passage at five- 
and-twenty minutes past two; a manrtrap in the kitchen at 
half-past two precisely; and a pitfall in the garret at five-and- 
twenty minutes to three. The Baby's head was, as it were, 
a test and touchstone for every description of matter, animal, 
vegetable, and mineral. Nothing was in use that day that 
didn t come, at some time or other, into close acquaintance 

Then there was a great Expedition set on foot to go and 
find out Mrs. Fielding; and to be dismally penitent to that 
excellent gentlewoman; and to bring her back, by force if 
needful, to be happy and forgiving. And when the Ex- 
pedition first discovered her, she would listen to no terms 
at all, but said, an unspeakable number of times, that ever 
she should have lived to see the day ! and couldn't be got 
to say anything else, except, "Now carry me to the grave;" 
which seemed absurd, on account of her not being dead, or 
anything at all Uke it After a time, she lapsed into a state 



ii ,^. 



f( 

a' 

S( 

in 
m 



;lf off 
s and 
ice in 
screw 



uch a 
t and 
cord- 
snt as 
^ one 
IS up 
Tier's 
• give 
eeled 
Jllof 
irays ; 
from 
fe or 
Dund 
vboy 
such 
1 ad- 
fi ve- 
in at 
and- 
i^ere, 
mal, 
that 
ince 



and 
that 
:e if 
Ex 
irms 
^ver 



got 

e;" 
, or 
tate 



THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 167 

of dreadful calmness, and observed that when that unfort,. 
nate tram of circumstances had occurred in thTl^o Tmde" 

*'? bmerly sarcastic mood, she passed imo an L,^ on^ ,^ 
which she gave vent to the remarkable expresS^lS th" 
worm »-ould turn if trodden on ; and after that she Jfelded 
to a soft regret, and said, if they had only giv^n her thet 

Z«u'\:??' "if'" ""^ "°' ^'^ had itfn her power to 
suggrat Taking advantage of this crisis in her feelines the 
Exped.t.on embraced her; and she very soon hadhe^Sotes 
on, and tos on her way to John Peeiybingle's in a sSte S 
unimpeachable gentility, with a paper larcel at her V^L 
^ a cap of statc'almost ^^ Zf^^^l Ilf^ T. 

m the wrong and morally impossible direction • ^ndbeW 
apprised thereof hoped she might take the & o? look nf 
where she pleased. At last they came : a chubby Htde coun"e 
pgging along m a snug and comfortable little way that X; 
belonged to the Dot family. And Dot and hermother side 
by^^side. were wonderful to see; they were so" llke'elch 

Ma^y^'mo?he?- and^M ^^^ '^^""'T ^^' ^^^^^'ntance with 

'y • Tnd DoVrini^^' "'^'^^^ ^^^^y^ ^^^°d °" her gen- 

^ ive H«l feet A^^\T^' ''"^^ °" ""^'^'"8 ^"^ ^^^ 

forgot it wasn't his ntS? ^ ^u°'~'^ '° ^" ^^^'^ ^^'^^' ^ I 
31 T f , "Snt name, but never mind— took liber^-Vq 

« muc^L'rch'f '^ ""'i^*"'- ^i"" ^^"■^d "> 'wSVcap buJ 
AelnHia^T /"k ■"""■,"' ™'* ^dn't defer himself at all to 
n Mr, ? L^ ^' *""' "*'? *"^ ''^ "° help for it now ; and 

:an"!?b«'c^^,srdr' "p- «- ^ ««^— a ^^i 

6a 



I , 



III 



<\ 



k«-iii-., 



168 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

I wouldn't have missed Dot doing the honoura in her 
wedding-gown— my bemson on her bright face I— for any 
money No I nor the good Carrier, so jovial and so ruddy, 
at the bottorn of the table. Nor the brown, fresh Sailor- 
lellow, and his handsome wife. Nor any one among them. 
I o have missed the dinner would have been to miss as jolly 
and as stout a meal as man need eat; and to have missed 
the overflowing cups in which they drank The Wedding Dtty 
would have been the greatest miss of all. 

After dinner, Caleb sang the song about the SparklinK 
Bowl I As I'm a living man— hoping to keep so, for a year 
or two— he sang it through. ^ 

And, by-the-bye, a most unlooked-for incident occurred 
just as he finished the last verse. 

There was a tap at the door, and a man came staggering 
m, without saying with your leave, or by your leavT with 
something heavy on his head. Setting this down in the 
middle of the table, symmetrically in the centre of the nuts 
and apples, he said,— 

"Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and as he hasn't got no 
use for the cake himself, p'raps you'ii eat it." 

And with those words, he walked off. 

There was some surprise among the company, as you may 
imagine. Mrs. Fielding, being a lady of infinite discernment, i 
suggested that the cake was poisoned ; and related a narra- 
tive of a cake which, within her knowledge, had turned a ' 
seminary for young ladies blue. But she was overruled by 
acclamation] and the cake was cut by May, with much 
ceremony and rejoicing. 

I don't think any one had tasted it, when there came 
another tap at the door, and the same man appeared again 
having under his arm a vast brown paper parcel. 

"Mr. Tackleton's compliments, and he's sent a few toys 
for the Babby. They ain't ugly." 

After the delivery of which expressions, he retired again. 

The whole party would have experienced great difficulty 
m finding words for their astonishment, even if they had had 
ample time to seek them. But they had none at all ; for the 
messenger had scarcely shut the door behind him, when there 
came another tap, and Tackleton himself walked in. 



, r -"-.., L^uv A cam neip Doing sweetened mor#- ^r 
^«, by commg face to face with such a man as you Cakb 
this unconscious little nurse gave me a broken hirTiw! 
mght. of which I have found the thread I blushtth^k 
how easily I might have bound yon and your daughter o 
me and what a miserable idiot I was when I twlc her for 
one ! Fnends, one and all, my house is very lonSlto^^ilT 

Li^'them'^ir"''' "«" ^"^^« o" myTiS'TSvt 
tap^lLrtyr" ^™^- "^ «"'^'°"' '° -«; k' "e join thi! 

fdlow * What'TJ t t' "!i"V'«- You never saw such a 
luiow. vvnai /laa he been doing w th him<!*>lf all k,» i.v 

have effected such a change ! ^ ' ^° 

whis^p^r^i' C "°"'' """ "' """"^ ""^ ^^^^-K- «'" you'" 
He had been very near it though ! 
There wanted but one living creature to make the nartv 

"7 hStv"with" ^h'^-'^^-S -' - eye. there he\^i^ 
>ei7 thirsty with hard running, and enffa^eri in K^r.^i . 

endeavours to squeeze his head into a na^^w p t"her'^S 
had gone with the cart to its journey's end vefvmf,;!, ^ 
So:s"?o'?herr °'.f' --t^and'sTurndou'^;- 
or somp li 1^? P" >"; ^^'"^ ''"8"*"8 »•»« the stable 
o thn '" ^"'^' ?■"'• ""^"•P'ing to incite the old horse 

waL in.oTT''''''"™''!^"." ^^ o™ account, he had 
walked mto the tap-room and laid himself down before the 

.r„e?^':?drmrhoi:.'''""<'°"^* "" "■^•^ «°' >■? ''^-- 

There was a dance in the evenine With wh.Vk r,o«^ i 
mention of that recreation I shouSVY leftt alon'e T 
h.d nut some re^on to suppose that it was quite an orig nal 

.^"anU-l:"^; in thniy™!"""™"" ««"- '' ^ '"-^ 
Edward, that sailor-feUow-a good, free, dashing sort <rf 



Is 

If, 



^ 



1 1 



170 THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH. 

fellow he was—had been teUing them various marvel, mn 

when all at once he took it in his head o jumfup fi^n 
^d shihTH"^ ^'T^ ^^*"^«> ^°^ Bertha's JrJ^UX 

Sv Ihd^n-'"''*' ^^^2^ "P°" '*' ^ y°" seldom hear Doi 
(sly little piece of affectation when she chose) sa d he 
dancing days were over; / think because thTcL^er wZ 

FMi-"« k'!,P'P^' ^"^ '^^ ^^^^ sitting by him bS^C 
Fielding had no choice, of course, but%o siy h^danS 

except May. May was ready. 7 «"u uic same, f 

on no sooner sees this than he skims across to M« FieWin. 
takes her round the waist, and follows suit 0?d Dot rfo 

DoTintoT/^-Li'^n? ^' '''' ^" '^^'^ whiSs off Mn 
S^^^h no ^"'''^'^^' °^'^^ .^"^^' ^d " the foremost there 
Sk K ^^T "^ 'h'" th*" *»e clutches Tilly Slowboy by 

rh^' rK*""'^ '^! f ""'^^^ j°'"^ *h« ""Sic with its Chirp 
Chirp, Chirp; and how the Kettle hums I ^' 

* * ♦ A 

But what is this? Even as I listen td them, hlithelv and 

I aSwt 1^!' A ^-^J^^ •^'' ^^^ ^^^^h«J i"to air, and 
cWld's L r ^ ^u ^^^* ''"8" "P°" th« He^h ; a broken 
child s toy lies upon the ground; and nothing else remains 



THE END OF "THE CRICKET ON THE HEARTH." 



UJ 



THE CHIMES 
A Gobiin Story 



% 



\\ 






* i 



. if 



u 




III 



^i 



i 



i ^ 



ft 



THE CHIMES. 



-♦♦- 



FIRST QUARTER. 
T™^5 "Lr "T P«'Pl«-and as it is desirable that 

already growing down again-there are not T »^5 P' 
people who would care to sleep in a church I S '"'"^ 
at sermon-time in warm weathe? (when the thing htactuaTlv 
been done, once or twice) but in th^ «;„kV j , ^^^"^"X 

know, by this position, in the broad bold Dav R^' ,1 
I applies to Night It must be argued bvnirtt A.rf i • 
undertalce to maintain it succeidly orai?y LsfytiJ.SJ 
cteln'rm'fh f"*« purpose, 4h any'olTe^^i^S 

c oors, and seekmg out some crevices by which to enter 

tt ""^^V ^"^ ^^^ ^"' ^ °"« not finding what k seeS 
whatever that may be. it wails and howls to isful fonh 1^1) 



I 






?r 



^ 



174 



THE CHIMES. 



i I 

! J 
Li 

hii I 

[I ill 



and not content with stalking through the aisles, and gliding 
round and round the pillars, and tempting the deep organ 
soars up to the roof, and strives to rend the rafters ; then 
flings Itself despairingly upon the stones below, and passes, 
muttering, mto the vaults. Anon, it comes up stealthily, 
and creeps along the walls— seeming to read, in whispers, 
the Inscriptions sacred to the Dead. At some of these, it 
breaks out shrilly, as with laughter; and at others, moans 
and cnes as if it were lamenting. It has a ghostly sound, 
too, lingering within the altar, where it seems to chant, in 
Its wild way, of Wrong and Murder done, and false Gods 
worshipped ; in defiance of the Tables of the Law, v.-hich 
look so fair and smooth, but are so flawed and broken. 
Ugh! Heaven preserve us, sitting snugly round the fire! 
It has an awful voice, that wind at Midnight, singing in a 
church ! 

But high up in the steeple ! There the foul blast roars 
and whistles. High up in the steeple, where it is free to 
come and go through many an airy arch and loophole, and 
to twist and twine itself about the giddy stair, and twirl the 
groaning weathercock, and make the very tower shake and 
shiver! High up in the steeple, where the belfry is; and 
iron rails are ragged with rust; and sheets of lead and 
copper, shrivelled by the changing weather, crackle and 
heave beneath the unaccustomed tread; and birds stuff 
shabby nests into comers of old oaken joists and beams; 
and dust g ows old and grey ; and speckled spiders, indolent 
and fat with long security, swing idly to and fro in the 
vibration of the bells, and never lose their hold upon their 
thread-spun castles in the air, or climb up sailor-like in quick 
alarm, or drop upon the ground and ply a score of nimble 
legs to save a life ! High up in the steeple of an old church, 
far above the light and murmur of the town, and far below 
the flying clouds that shadow it, is the wild and dreary place 
at night ; and high up in the steeple of an old church dwelt 
the Chimes I tell of. 

They were old Chimes, trust me. Centuries ago these 
Bells had been baptized by bishops— so many centuries ago, 
that the register of their baptism was lost long, long before 
the memory cf man ; and no one knew their names. They 



THE CHIMES. I75 

had had their Godfathers and Godmothers, these Bells (for 
my own part, by the way, I would rather incur the responsi- 
bility of being Godfather to a Bell than a Boy) ; and had 
had their silver mugs, no doubt, besides. But Time had 
mowed down their sponsors, and Henry the Eighth had 
melted down their mugs; and they now hung, nameless 
and mugless, m the church tower. 

Not speechless, though. Far from it. They had clear, 
loud, lusty, sounding voices, had these Bells j and far and 
wide they might be heard upon the wind. Much too sturdy 
Chimes were they, to be dependent on the pleasure of the 
wind, moreover; for, fighting gallantly against it when it 
took an adverse Avhim, they would pour their cheerful notes 
mto a listening ear right royally; and bent on being heard 
on stormy nights, by some poor mother watching a sick 
child, or some lone wife whose husband was at sea, they had 
been sometimes known to beat a blustering Nor'-VVester— 
ay, " all to fits," as Toby Veck said. For though they chose 
to call him Trotty Veck, his name was Toby, and nobody 
could make it anything else either (except Tobias) without 
a special Act of Parliament, he having been as lawfully 
christened in his day as the Bells had been in theirs, though 
with not quite so much of solemnity or public rejoicing 

For my part, I confess myself of Toby Veck's belief, for I 
am sure he had opportunities enough of forming a correct 
one. And whatever Toby Veck said, I say. And I take 
my stand by Tobv Veck, although he did stand all day lone 
(and weary work it was) just outside the church door. In 
fact he was a ticket-porter, Toby Veck, and waited there 
lor jobs. 

And a breezy, goose-skinned, blue-nosed, red-eyed, stony- 
toed, tooth-chattermg place it was, to wait in, in the winter time 
35 Toby Veck well knew. The wind came tearing round 
he corner— especially the east wind-as if it had sallied 
forth, express, from the confines of the earth, to have a blow 
at loby. And oftentimes it seemed to come upon him 
sooner than it had expected ; for bouncing round the corner, 
and passing 1 oby, it would suddenly wheel round again, a^ 
f It cned, "Why, here he is ! " Incontinently his little white 
anron would be caught up over his head like a naughty boy's 



- - 1 



Y-. 



f 

El ■ i 



'7<5 THE CHIMES, 

garments, and his feeble little cane would be seen to wrestfe 
and struggle unavaiiingly in his hand, and his l^s wouki 
undergo tremendous agitation; and Toby himsdf all aslant 
and facmg now m this direction, now in that, would be so 
banged and buffeted, and touzied, and womed, and hustled 
and lifted off his feet, as to render it a state of things but onj 
degree removed from a positive miracle that he wasn't carried 
up bodily into the air as a colony of frogs or snails or other 
portable creatures sometimes are, and rained down again, to 
the great astonishment of the natives, on some strange comer 
of the world where ticket-porter? are unknown. 

But windy weather, in spite of its using him so roughlv 
was, after all, a sort of holiday for Toby. Tnat's the fact' 
He didnt seem to wait so long for a sixpence in the wind as 
at other times, for the iiaving to fight with that boisterous 
element took off his attention, and quite freshened him up 
when he was getting hungry and low-spirited. A hard frost 
too, or a fall of snow, was an event ; and it seemed to do 
him good, somehow or other— it would have been hard ro 
say in what respect though, Toby ! So wind and frost and 
snow and perhaps a good stiff storm of hail, were Toby 
Veck's red-letter days. 

Wet '"-ather was the worst— the cold, damp, clammv wpt 
that wr, ^.ped him up like a moist greatcoat : the only kin.^ 
of ^eatcoat Toby owned, or could have added to his comfort 
by dispensing with. Wet days, when the rain came slowlv, 
thickly, obstinately down ; when the street's throat, like his 
own, was choked with mist ; when smoking umbrellas pass'^d 
and repassed, spinning round and round like so many tee- 
totums, as they knocked against each other on the crowded 
footway, throwing off a little whirlpool of uncomfortal)le 
sprinklings ; when gutters brawled and waterspouts were full 
and noisy; when the wet from the projecting stones and 
ledges of the church fell drip, drip, drip on Toby, making 
the wisp of straw on which he stood mere mud in no time- 
those were the days that tried him. Then, indeed, you 
might see Toby looking anxiously out from his shelter in an 
angle of the church wall— such a meagre shelter, thai in 
summer time it never cast a shadow thicker than a good- 
sized walking-stick upon the sunny pavement— with a di^ 



r St 

:ti 



THE CHIMES. I77 

consolate and lengthened face. But coming out, a minute 

afterwards, to warm himself by exercise, and trotting up and 

own some dozen times he would brighten even then, and 

go back more brightly to his niche. 

They called him IVotty from his pace, which meant speed 
If It d dn t make it. He could have walked faster perhaps- 
nost likely-but rob him of his trot, and Toby would have 
taken to his bed and died. It bespattered him with mud in 
dirty weather : it cost him a world of trouble. He could have 
walked with infinitely greater ease ; but that was one reason 
tor his clmging to it so tenaciously. A weak, small, spare 
old man, he was a very Hercules, this Toby, in his good 
intentions. He loved to earn his money. He delighted 
to beheve— 1 oby was very poor, and couldn't well aflTord to 
part with a delight- that he was worth his salt. With a 
shilling or an eighteenpenny message or small parcel in hand 
his courage, always high, rose higher. As he trotted on, he 
would call out to fast Postmen ahead of him to get out of 
he way, devoutly believing that in the natural course of 
things he must inevitably overtake and run them down : and 
he had perfect faith-not often tested-in his being able to 
carry anything that man could lift. 

Thus even when he came out of his nook to warm himself 
on a wet day, Toby trotted. Making, with his leaky shoes, a 
crooked line of slushy footprints in the mire, and blowing 
on his chilly hands and rubbing them against each other! 
poorly defended from the searching cold by threadbare 
mufflers of grey worsted, with a private apartment only for 
me thumb and a common room or tap for the rest of the 
hngers, Toby, with his knees bent and his cane beneath his 
arm still trotted. Falling out into the road to look up at 
the^belfr)' when the Chimes resounded, Toby trotted still 

He made this last excursion several times a day, for they 
were company to him ; and when he heard their voices, he 
hao an interest in glancing at their lodging-place, and think- 
ng how they were moved, and what hammers beat upon 
'lem. Perhaps he was the more curious about these Bells, 
tecause there were points of resemblance between them- 

he ^'n^ r- ■ T,^^y. ^""S there in all weathers, with 
toe wind and ram driving m upon them, facing only the 



Vr< 



li 



•■'•i 



ii. :i 



178 THE CHIMES, 

outsides of all those houses ; never getting any nearer to the 
blazing fires that gleamed and shone upon the windows, or 
came puffing out of the chimney tops; and incapable of 
participation in any of the good things that were constantly 
being handed, through the street doors and the area railings, 
to prodigious cooks. Faces came and went at many win- 
dows—sometimes pretty faces, youthful faces, pleasant faces ; 
sometimes the reverse- but Toby knew no more (though he 
often speculated on these trifles, standing idle in the streets) 
whence they came, or where they went, or whether, when 
the lips moved, one kind word was said of him in all the 
year, than did the Chimes themselves. 

Toby was not a casuist— that he knew of, at least— and I 
don't mean to say that when he began to take to the Bells, 
and to knit up his first rough acquaintance with them into 
something of a closer and more delicate woof, he passed 
through these considerations one by one, or held any forma! 
review or great field-day in his thoughts. But what I mean 
to say and do say is, that as the functions of Toby's body, 
his digestive organs for example, did of their own cunning, 
and by a great many operations of which he was altogether 
ignorant, and the knowledge of which would have astonished 
him very much, arrive at a certain end ; so his mental fac- 
ulties, without his privity or concurrence, set all these wheels 
and springs in n.otion, with a thousand others, when they 
worked to bring alH ut his liking for the Bells. 

And though I Iiad said his love, I would not have recalled 
the word, though it would scarcely have expressed his com- 
plicated feeling. For, being but a simple man, he invested 
them with a strange and solemn character. They were so 
mysterious, often heard and never seen ; so high up, so far 
off, so full of such a deep strong melody, that he regarded 
them with a species of awe ; and sometimes when he looked 
up at the dark arched windows in the tower, he half expected 
to be beckoned to by something which was not a Bell, and 
yet was what he heard so often sounding in the Chimes. 
For all this, Toby scouted with indignation a certain flying 
rumour that the Chimes were haunted, as implying the pos- 
sibility of their being connected with any Evil thing. In 
short, they were very often in his ears, and very often in his 



i,i^: ■■iaw|ir^'.©3Ls«s-,»v^ 



THE CHIMES. ,.Q 

g*n?ch\''crickThU ''K^T^ °P'"'°"= ^ he very of.^ 

ulce an extra. rot'or two, afterwLdrtI' ct^e it ' "^ "'" "^ 

whe'„^KT.o;t;™u"d 'i^^:.^. tte-'i "T 

was humming like a Melodious momteTof a S inH Tu' 

chest for bein^ coTdT^lh h h-M*""'- "^ P""'^'''"8 h« 
He took a silent trot, after that, for a minute or two 

an'd he U soon Wished "''' "'^ ""'"^ ■""* "^ » "°^ 

Jhad Urfi-nirhT'^ "^ °^ *« °"'- -«-^". "".ch 

between 'em I?s took^" J' i ^^ ' ^^^ ^^ difference 
wonder whether it wouM L "! ''"^^ '° ^"^ '^ °"t. I 
now. to buy that oLervat?^^^ -^"e, 

liamentl" "servation tor the Papers— or the Par- 



J 



i8o 



THE CHIMES. 



Toby was only joking, for he gravely shook his head in self- 
depreciatioa 

" Why, Lord ! » said Toby, « the papers is full of obserwa- 
tions as It IS ; and so's the Parliament. Here's last week s 
paper, no<' taking a very dirty one from his pocket, an,i 
ho ding It from him at arm's-length, "full of obserwations '-- 
full of obserwations ! I like to know the news as well as 
any man," said Toby slowly, folding it a little smaller and 
putting It m his pocket again; "but it almost goes against 
the grain with me to road a paper now. It frightens me 
almost. I don't know v, hat we poor people are coming to' 
Lord send we may be coming to something better in the 
New Year nigh upon us ! " 

"Why, father, father ! » said a pleasant voice hard by. 
But Toby, not hearing it, continued to trot backwards and 
forwards, musing as he went, and talking to himself 

" It seems ^ if we can't go right, or do right, or be righted," 
said Toby. I hadn't much schooling myself, when I was 
young, and I can't make out whether we have any business 
on the face of the earth or not. Sometimes I think we must 
have a httle ; and sometimes I think we must be intrudin^T 
I get so puzzled sometimes that I am not even able to make 
up my mind v;hether there is any good at all in us, or whether 
we are born bad. We seem to do dreadful things ; we seem 
to give a deal of trouble ; we are ahvays being complained of 
and guarded against. One way or another, we fill the papers. I 
Talk of a New Year ! " said Toby mournfully. " I can bear I 
up as well as another man at most times— better than a good 
many, for I am as strong as a lion, and all men ain't— but 
supposing It should really be that we have no right to a 

New Year ; supposing we really are intruding " 

^Why, father, father ! " said the pleasant voice again 
Toby heard it this time; started, stopped, and shortening 
his sight, which had been directed a long way off as se^k'n<^ 
for enlightenment in the very heart of the approaching yean 
lound himself face to face with his own child, and looking 
close into her eyes. 

Bright eyes they were. Eyes that would bear a worid of 
looking m, before their depth was fathomed. Dark eyes, 
that reflected back the eyes which siarched them , not flash- 



ft; 

an 

ba 



sa 

'ha' 
Ic 
:be 
the 
I 



self- 

;rwa- 

eek's 
anii 
si- 
ll as 
and 
linst 
me, 
r, to. 
"the 



and 



ed," 
was 
less 

lUSt 

ing. 

ake 

:her 

?em 

iof 

ers. 

>ear * 

3od 

but 

3 a 



mg 
ing 
.'ar, 
ing 

of 
es, 
so- 



THE CHIMES. j^j 

mgly, or at the owner's will, but with a clear ralm K« ♦ 

true, and beaming with Hopf ^ W th Ho- ^^^ 

fresh- with Hnr^ c« k *^" • " "°P® ^° young and 

Why, Pet," said Trotty, "what's to-do? T H.'^n'. 
pect you to-day, Meg." wn«its to-do? I didn t ex- 

r^^:?f --™"- --^pot: ^^t;tsi 

am. And not alone— not alone ! " 
"VVhy, you don't mean to say," observed Trr^tur i^^l- 

"Smell it, father dear," said Meg. " Only smell it i » 
Trotty was going to lift up the cover at on« in a .zreat 
huny, when she gaily interposed her hand. ' ^*' 

h'l. .i,"°'- ""'" '*'<' **«& »^"i the glee of a child 

bask^f .nT • / '^"•'^^'^ P^^'^b^^ «"iff at the edge of the 
t)asJcet and cned out m a rapture,— ^ 

"Why, It's hot!" 
.ca'ld^gho"t7'"' ''°"" "'"^ "^- """^ ha, hal It's 
scald"^g ho't r ■' " '"""^ ■^°''^' "'* " ^°« °f ^^^- " I''^ 

I can't tLT:f :.x it^ut ;^^ryo':.^:s."^h^t^?i:''^'i^:^f. 

S^eTo^ N^SLLs^^" ' ■"■'•-■ AtSVliTmo'^rof 
Meg was in a ^ect fright lest he should guess right too 



' M 



4 



l82 THE CHIMES. 

soon ; shrinking away, as she held the basket towards him ; 
curling up her pretty shoulders ; stopping her ear with her 
hand, as if by so doing she could keep the right word out of 
Toby's lips ; and laughing softly the whole time. 

Meanwhile Toby, putting a hand on each knee, bent down 
his nose to the basket, and took a long inspiration at the 
lid, the grin upon his withered face expanding in the process, 
as if he were inhaling laughing gas. 

"Ah 1 it's very nice," said Toby. " It ain't—I suppose it 
ain't Polonies?" 

"No, no, no!" cried Meg, delighted. "Nothing like 
Polonies ! " 

" No," said Toby, after another sniff. " It's— it's mellower 
than Polonies. It's very nice. It improves every moment. 
It's too decided for Trotters. Ain't it ? " 

Meg was in an ecstasy. He could not have gone wider of 
the mark than Trotters — except Polonies. 

"Liver?" said Toby, communing with himself. "No. 
There's a mildness about it that don't answer to liver. Pet- 
titoes? No. It ain't faint enough for pettitoes. It want^ 
the stringiness of Cocks' heads. And I know it aint sau 
sages. I'll tell you what it is. It's Chitteriings ! " 

" No, it ain't ! " cried Meg, in a burst of delight. " No, it 
ain't ! " 

"Why, what am I a-thinking of?" said Toby, suddenly 
recovering a position as near the perpendicular as it wai 
possible for him to assume. " I shall forget my own name 
next It's Tripe!" 

Tripe it was ; and Meg, in high joy, protested he should 
say, in half a minute more, it was the best tripe ever stewed. 

"And so," said Meg, busying herself exultingly with the 
basket, " I'll lay the cloth cl once, father ; for I have brought 
the tripe in a basin, and tied the basin up in a pocket 
handkerchief; and if I like to be proud for once, and spread 
that for a cloth, and call it a cloth, there's no law to prevent 
me— is there, father ? " 

"Not that I know of, my dear," said Toby. " But they're 
always a-bringing up some new law or other." 

"And according to what I was reading you in the paper 
the other day, father— what the Judge said, you know— we 



THE CHIMES. ,8* 

fZ.r^Pllf'", 'K^*° know them all. Ha. haf 

My goodness me, how clever they think 



What a mistake 



us 



f » 



"Yes, my dear," cried Trotty ; "and they'd be very fond 
rS any one of us that ^/i/ know'em all. He'd era JfaTim^n 
the work he'd get that man, and be popuTar wh "hl^^^^^^^ 
lolks in his neighbourhood. Very m!ich so ! " "^ ^^""^ 
Hed eat his dinner with an appetite, whoever he was if 
It smelt like this," said Meg cheerfully.' "Make has7e for 

Post, or on the Steps ? Dear, dear, how grand we are ! Two 
places to choose from ! " c arc. i wo 

"The Steps to-day, my Pet," said Trotty. "Steps in dry 
~ 'alUim "s T '"'T'l^ «"^^^^ cLvenie^y in Z 

"Then here," said Meg, clapping her hands, after a 

looKs. _ome, father. Come ! 

Since his discovery of the contents of the basket Trottv 
had been standing looking at her-and had been p^^^^^^^^^ 
oo-m an abstracted manner, which showed that thouch 

(ven of tripe, he neither saw nor thought about her as she 

mn.h' i^fV"'"'"/"^ ^"t had before him some imag nary 

ough sketch or drama of her future life. Roused, now bj 

tt l^J^'^i'^r^o^'' he shook off a melancholy' shake of 

er side t'^H ""' ^"'^ '•^'"'"^' "P°" ^''"' ^"^ Ltted to 

' Wn r' !.T '^"''P'"^. ^° ^'^ ^"^^'"' *h^ Chimes rang. 
towatdTthem."' '^""^' ^^"'"^ ^^ ^''^ ^^' -^ ^-'^-g "P 

•'Amen to the Bells, father?" cried Meg. 

his seat " Th' V'^'' ^ ^'^""^^ "^^ ^"^'''" ^'^ trotty, taking 

\Lvt th J 7.K-'^y ? ^^^ °"^' ^ ^'" «"^e' if they could 
•Many s the kind thing they say to me " 

and rkn^.'^!nH°f ^"J^K^r" '?-^^^^ ^'^g' ^' ^he set the basin, 
ana a knife and fork, before him. " Well ' " 

vi^rnr"'"?'^"'l^^?'"u'^'^ '^'■°"y' f^"'"g to With great 
vigour. "And Where's the difference? If I hear 'em. what 



iM 




•^"^VViif 



^«r;'nr 



MICROCOPY RESOLUTION TEST CHA?T 

(ANSI and ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 






150 
154 



Z8 
3.2 

140 



12.5 
2.2 

2.0 
1.8 




A APPLIED IfVHGE 



Inc 



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-■^Wf 



ii 



1 84 THE CHIMES, 

does it matter whether they speak it or not? Why, bless 
you, my dear," said Toby, pointing at the tower with his 
fork, and becoming more animated under the influence of 
dmner, "how often have I heard them Bells say, *Tohv 
Veck, Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! Toby Veck. 
Toby Veck, keep a good heart, Toby ! ' A million times ^ 
More ! " 

" Well I never ! " cried Meg. 

She had, though— over and over again. For it was Toby's 
constant topic. 

" When things is very bad," said Trotty— " very bad indeed, 
I mean ; almost at the worst— then it's ' Toby Veck, Toby 
Veck, job coming soon, Toby! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, 
job coming soon, Toby ! ' that way." 

"And it comes— at last, father," said Meg, with a touch 
of sadness in her pleasant voice. 

"Always," answered the unconscious Toby. "Never 
fails." 

While this discourse was holding, Trotty made no pause 
in his attack upon the savoury meat before him, but cut and 
ate, and cut and drank, and cut and chewed, and dodgen 
about, from tripe to hot potato, and from hot potato back 
again to tripe, with an unctuous and unflagging relish. But 
happening now to look all round the street — in case anybody 
should be beckoning from any door or window for a porter— 
his eyes, in coming back again, encountered Meg, sitting 
opposite to him with her arms folded, and only busy in 
watching his progress with a smile of happiness. 

" Why, Lord forgive me ! " said Trotty, dropping his knife 
and fork. " My dove I Meg ! why didn't you tell me what a 
beast I was ? " 

"Father!" 

"Sitting here," said Trotty, in penitent explanation, "cram- 
ming, and stufifing, and gorging myself, and you before me 
there, never so much as breaking your precious fast, nor 
wanting to, when " 

" But I have broken it, father," interposed his daughter, 
laughing, " all to bits. I have had my dinner." 

" Nonsense," said Trotty. " Two dinners in one day ! It 
ain't possible I You might as well tell me that two New 



THE CHIMES. 1 85 

Vear's Days will come together, or that I have had a gold 
head all my life and never changed it." 

" I have had my dinner, father, for all that," said Meg, 
commg nearer to him. "And if you'll go on with yours, HI 
tell you how and where ; and how your dinner came to be 
brought ; and— and something else besides." 

Toby still appeared incredulous ; but she looked into his 
face with her clear eyes, and laying her hand upon his shoul- 
der, motioned him to go on while the meat was hot. So 
Trotty took up his knife and fork again, and went to work. 
But much more slowly than before, and shaking his head, as 
if he were not at all pleased with himself. 
. "^}^^,^y dinner, father," said Meg, after a little hesita- 
tion, with— with Richard. His dinner-time was early • and 
as he brought his dinner with him when he came to see me 
we— we had it together, father." ' 

Trotty took a little beer, and smacked his lips. Then he 
said, *' Oh ! " because she waited. 

"And Richard says, father " Meg resumed. Then 

stopped. 

"What does Richard say, Meg?" asked Toby. 

" Richard says, father " Another stoppage. 

" Richard's a long time saying it," said Toby. 

" He says then, father," Meg continued, lifting up her eyes 
at last, and speaking in a tremble, but quite plainly, "an- 
ofher year is nearly gone, and where is the use of waiting on 
from year to year, when it is so unlikely we shall ever be 
better ofif than we are now? He says we are poor now, 
Jather, and we shall be poor then ; but we are young now* 
and years will make us old before we know it. He says that 
if we wait— people in our condition— until we see our way 
quite clearly, the way will be a narrow one indeed— the 
common way— the Grave, father." 

A bolder man than Trotty Veck must needs have drawn 
•pon his boldness largely to deny it. Trotty held his peace. 
And how hard, father, to grow old, and die, and think 
;ve might have cheered and helped each other ! How hard 
m all our lives to love each other ; and to grieve, apart, to 
see each other working, changing, growing old and grey. 
Even if I got the better of it, and forgot him (which I never 



■.-<. 



f , 

1 1 



186 



THE CHIMES. 




could), oh, father dear, how hard to have a heart so full as 
mine is now, and live to have it slowly drained out every 
drop, without the recollection of one happy moment of a 
woman s life, to stay behind and comfort me, and make mc 
better ! 

Trotty sat quite still. Meg dried her eyes, and said more 
gaily— that IS to say, with here a laugh, and there a sob, and 
here a laugh and sob together, — 

"So Richard says, father, as his work was yesterday made 
certain for some time to come, and as I love him and have 
loved him full three years— ah ! longer than that, if he knew 
It!— will I marry him on New Year's Day; the best and 
happiest day, he says, in the whole year, and one that is 
almost sure to bring good fortune with it. It's a short notice 
father— isn't it?— but I haven't my fortune to be settled, oJ 
my wedding dresses to be made, like the great ladies, father 
—have I ? And he said so much, and said it in his way, so 
strong and earnest, and all the time so kind and gentle, that 
I said Id come and talk to you, father. And as they paid 
the money for that work of mine this morning (unexpectedly 
1 am sure !), and as you have fared very poorly for a whol' 
week, and as I couldn't help wishing there should be some- 
thing to make this day a sort of holiday to you as well as a 
dear and happy day to me, father, I made a little treat and 
brought it to surprise you." 

"And see how he leaves it cooling on the step!" said 
another voice. 

It was the voice of this same Richard, who had come 
upon theia unobserved, and stood before the father and 
daughter, looking down upon Ihem with a face as glowing as 
the iron on which his stout sledge-hammer daily rung \ 
handsome, well-made, powerful youngster he was ; with eyes 
that sparkled like the red-hot droppings from a furnace fire; 
black hair that curled about his swarthy temples rarely : and 
a smile-a smile that bore out Meg's eulogium on his style 
of conversation. ^ 

» Tv'^^^^^T,^^ ^^^""^^ '^ cooling on the step ! " said Richard. 
iVIeg don't know what he likes. Not she ! " 

u- ^^^H' ^^^ ^^'^°" ^"^ enthusiasm, immediately reached up 
his hand to Richard, and was going to address him in a great 






THE CHIMES. ig- 

hadTSd^^on:?; "^ '^^' ""'-■''"'■ »- '-'--'. - they 

gagemems elsewhere. "Wh^fs ?he ma«e"rV;^!S^ .^e" 
to Trotty Veck "tolf n S footman with great emplLiis 

nMo:"here^^PoL'r°" I'll" '°''' ft ""^ 8"«'--. 
\Yck " r^m^ 1, ■' ''«^''™">g «'th his head to Trottv 

"Yes s^° ,n;H T • .,^^^' '■ "'"^ '' Y°"f dinner ? " '^ 

" Dnn', 1 f 1'°^%' '''"""S " behind him in a corner 
Don t leave it there," exclaimed the gentleman " RrfL 
i: here, brine it herp <;« i ti,: ■ B>: "eman. ijring 
>• V -5 *° • ' "'5 's vour dinner <; it > " 

over and oTron'heLd oft ^T""" "" "°" '""""^ 

rwo other gentlemen had come out wiih him On^ „ 
a low-spmted gentleman of middle age oF a m^a^fe hi f 

^ndd^XL Af ^"? pepper-and-salt trousers-very iLe 



<-»«< 



i88 



THE CHIMES. 




if an undue proportion of the blood in his body were squeezed 
up into his head ; which perhaps accounted for his having 
also the appearance of ueing rather co'^' about the heart. 

He who had Toby's meat upon the .k called to the first 
one by the name of Filer, and they botn drew near together. 
Mr. Filer, being exceedingly short-sighted, was obliged to go 
so close to the remnant of Toby's dinner before he could 
make out what it was, that Toby's heart leaped up into his 
mouth. But Mr. Filer didn't eat it. 

"This is a description of animal food. Alderman," said 
Filer, making little punches in it with a pencil-case, "com- 
monly known to the labouring population of this country by 
the name of tripe." 

The Alderman laughed, and winked ; for he was a merr)' 
fellow. Alderman Cute. Oh, and a sly fellow too ! A know- 
ing fellow. Up to everything. Not to be imposed upon. 
Deep in the people's hearts ! He knew them, Cute did. I 
believe you ! 

"But who eats tripe?" said Mr. Filer, looking round. 
" Tripe is without an exception the least economical and the 
most wasteful article of consumption that the markets of this 
country can by possibility produce. The loss upon a pound 
of tripe has been found to be, in the boiling, seven-eighths 
of a fifth more than the los.s upon a pound of any other 
animal substance whatever. Tripe is more expensive, properly 
understood, than the hothouse pine-apple. Taking ;r^o ac- 
count the number of animals slaughtered yearly within the 
bills of mortality alone, and forming a low estimate of the 
quantity of tripe which the carcasses of those animals, 
reasonably well butchered, would yield, I find that the 
waste on that amount of tripe, if boiled, would victual a 
garrison of five hundred men for five months of thirty-one 
days each, and a February ov^r. The Waste, the Waste ! " 

Trotty stood aghast, and his legs shook under him. He 
seemed to have starved a gar/ison of five hundred men with 



his own hand. 



5< 



:\ 



h 



u 



tripe?' 



Who eats tripe?" said Mr. Filer w :mly. "Who eats 



Trotty made a miserable bow. 

•'You do, do you?" said Mr. Fil«r. "Then I'll tell you I 



:ezcd 

wing 

I firs! 
;thcr. 
to go 

:oul(l 
his 

said 
com- 
ry by 

nerry 
now- 
ipon. 
1. 1 

)und. 
dthe 
■ this 
ound 
^hths 
:)thcr 
perly 

ac- 

1 the 
f the 
mal?. 

the 
jal a 
^-one 

"He 

with 

eat 



I you 



THE CHIMES. jgg 

rfwanET "°''^"'" ^''^ '^'°"y f''i""y- "I'd sooner die 
man "'^fd Mr' fT"""!! '"''"■ *'»^^-"'-n"-oned, Alder- 

Irotty was so shocked that it eavp hi'm »,« 

heard fnend Filer. What do^«„ L?" ^""""^ 

10. like thi,'- L^ng rX'-in stc7d'i'""';" =• '^'- 
as >hese? Look at him ! Whkt an obiec, f"^^ZT .^""fi 

Ttsr;er/rhe^irfo™^ro',^ 

nothing nowad'ivQ aki» / , j 7 ^"'"e. m 'act. There's 

•Theiz7dT.esf.'i,e,s'':tit::f^-'' «-'-- 

"The ^r£/r.}Af^^ " producing himself. 

tjS3^.JSto^a^3S 

^ark^nr ^/^"'S •" ^'' '"t'^ ^^^^ cifcunistances, a shirt to his 
^^etabe^i^^^^^^^^^ ? ^^%^°°'^ ^"^ ^^^^^ -as scarcely a 

L^dMr fL^?t"^^^"^ ^^'^ .^^"^ ^° P"t i"to his mouth" 

p / •„"^f' ^ ^" P^'ove it by tabl-s » ' 

But stUl the red-faced gentleman extolled the good old 



190 THE CHIMFS. 

times, the grand old times, the great old times. No matter 
what anybody else said, he still went turning round and round 
in one set form of words concerning them, as a poor squirrel 
turns and turns in its revolving cage, touching the mechanism 
and trick of which it has probably quite as distinct perce[) 
tions as ever this red-faced gentleman had of his deceased 
Millennium. 

It is possible that poor old Trotty's faith in these very 
vague Old Times was not entirely destroyed, for he fch 
vague enough at that moment. One thing, however, was 
plain to him in the midst of his distress — to wit, that how- 
ever these gentlemen might differ in details, his misgivings 
of that morning, and of many other mornings, were well 
founded. *' No, no. We can't go right or do right," thought 
Trotty in despair. " There is no good in us. We are born 
bad!" 

But Trotty had a father's heart within him, which had 
somehow got into his breast in spite of this decree ; and he 
could not bear that Meg, in the blush of her brief joy, should 
have her fortune read by these wise gentlemen, ** God hclj- 
her," thought poor Trotty. " She will know it soon enougli. 

He anxiously signed, therefore, to the young smith to 
take her away. But he was so busy talking to her softly at 
a little distance, that he only became conscious of this desire 
simultaneously with Alderman Cute. Now the Alderman 
had not yet had his say, but he was a philosopher, too- 
practical, though ! Oh, very practical ! and, as he had no 
idea of losing any portion of his audience, he cried, " Stop ! " 

" Now, you know," said the Alderman, addressing his two 
friends, with a self-complacent smile upon his face, which 
was habitual to him, " I am a plain man, and a practical 
man ; and I go to work in a plain, practical way. That's my 
way. There is not the least mystery or difficulty in dealing 
with this sort of people, if you only understand 'em, and can 
talk to 'em in their own manner. Now, you Porter ! Don t 
you ever tell me, or anybody else, my friend, that you haven; 
always enough to eat, and of the best ; because I know better. 
I have tasted your tripe, you know, and you can't 'chaff 
me. You understand what ' chaff' means, eh ? That's the 
right word, isn't it ? Ha, ha, ha ! Lord bless you," said the 



( 



S\^ 



\ 



I 



latter 
ound 
nirrcl 
nisiii 
rcep- 
;asc(i 

verv 

: felt 
, was 
how- 
vings 

well 

jught 

born 

had 
id he 
lould 

help 
ugh.' 
Lh to 
tly at 
iesirc 
rnian 
:oo— 
,d no 
Dp! 
s two 
vhich 
ctical 
's my 
baling 
d can 
Don't 
iven'; 
letter, 
;haff 
s the 
dthe 



! THE CHIMES. I9I 

Mderman, turning to his friends again, "it's the easiest 
thing on earth to deal with this sort of people, if you only 
understand 'em." 

Famous man for the common people. Alderman Cute' 
Never out of temper with them! Easy, affable, joking 
knowing gentleman ! 

" You see, my friend," pursued the Alderman, " there's a 
great deal of nonsense talked about Want—' hard up,' you 
know: that's the phrase, isn't it? ha! ha! ha.'— and 'l in- 
tend to Put it Down. There's a certain amount of cant in 
vogue about Starvation, and I mean to Put it Down. That • 
all! Lord bless you," said the Alderman, turning to his 
fnends agam, "you may Put Down anything among this 
sort of people, if you only know the way to set about it ! " 

Trotty took Meg's hand and drew it through his arm. He 
didn't seem to know what he was dointr, though. 

"Your daughter, eh?" said the Alderman, chucking her 
familiarly under the chin. 

Always affable with the working classes. Alderman Cute 
Knew what pleased them ! Not a bit of pride ! 

" VVh< -e's her mother ? " asked that worthy gentleman 

" Deaa," .said Toby. '« Her mother got up linen ; and 
was called to Heaven when She was born." 

"Not to get up linen there, I suppose," remarked the 
Alderman pleasantly. 

Toby might or might not have been able to separate his 
wife m Heaven from her old pursuits. But query : If Mrs 
Alderman Cute had gone to Heaven, would Mr. Aldermari 
Cute have pictured her as holding any state or station there? 

"And you're making love to her, are you?" said Cute to 
the young smith. 

" Yes," returned Richard quickly, for he ./as nettled by 
the question. "And we are going to be married on New 
Year's Day." 

'' What do you mean ? " cried Filer sharply. « Married ! " 
"VVhy, yes; we're thinking of it, Master," said Richard, 
ere rather in a hurry, you see, in case it should be Put 
iJown first." 

A V^^l'!/"^^ ^^^^''' ^^^"^ ^ S'"®^"- "P"' *^*^* down in- 
aeed, Alderman, and you'll do something. Married! 



"nm 



IM 



192 THE CHIMES. 

Married ! ! The ignorance oi the first principles of political 
economy ori the part of these people, theii improvident, 
their wickedness, is, by Heavens! enough to— Now lo.„ 
at that couple, will you ? " 

Well! They were worth looking at. And marria •• 
seemed as reasonable and fair a deed as they need have i- 
contemplation. 

"A man may live to be as old as Methuselah," said Mr 
I'llcr and may Vbour all his life Un the benefit of sin- 
people as those, u.id may heap up facts on figures, facts <,'' 
figures, facts on figures, mountains high and dry, and he .a 
no more hope to persuade 'em that they have no right w 
business to be married than he can hope to persuade 'en 
that they have no earthly right or business o be bom Aiic 
/Aa/ we know they haven't. We reduced it to a mathemat 
cal certainty long ago." 

Alderman Cute was mightily diverted, xnd laid his ri-l- 
forefing.r on the side of his nose, ^s much as to say to botr 
his friends, " Observe me, will you ? Keep your eye on th 
practical man ! "—and called Meg to him. 
" Come here, my girl," said Alderman Cute. 
The young blood of her lover had been mounting, wratl, 
fully within tne last few minutes, and he was indisposed to 
let he.- come. But setting a constraint upon himself, h- 
came forward with a stride as Meg approached, a .d stoo>^ 
beside her. Trotty kept her hand within his arm still, bu: 
looked from face to face as wildly rs a sleeper in a dream. 

" Now I'm going to give you a word or two of good ad- 
vic^ my girl," said the Alderman, in his nice, easy wav, 
♦It's my place to give advice, you know, because I'm a 
Justice. You know I'm a Justice, don't you ? " 

Meg timidly said, " Yes." But everybody knew Alderman 
Cute was a Justice! Oh dear, bO active a Justice alwavs! 
Who such a mote of brightness in tne public eye as Cute? 

"You are going to be married, yo 1 say," pursued the 
Alderman. " Very unbecoming and indelicate in one of 
your sex! But never mind that. After you are married, 
you 11 quarrel with your husband, and come to be a distressed 
wife. You may think not ; but you will, because I tell you so. 
Now I give you fair warning that I have made up my mind 






af 



re 



3liti(al 

den: . . 



n tht 



vrath- 
id to 
f, Ik- 
stood 
1, bur 
n. 

1 ad- 
way, 
'ni a 

rman 
'avs ! 
i? 

the 
le of 
ried, 
issed 

Ll SO. 

nind 



THE CHIMES. TO« 

to Put distressed wives Down. So don't be brought before 
;ne. You'll have ohildren--^ boy.. Those bo> s v^H grow up 

t^Vk'ngs. „jy youn- triend ! I'll („nvict 'em sum- 

:nar.ly. every one, for I am determined to Put boys without 
..noes and stoc. ngs Down. Perhaps )our bu.bard w 1 dir 
young (mo.t hkely) and leave you wilh a bahv-T^n you'll 
;.• turned out ot doors, and wander up and down .'; .tJeet 

M .u'w^nT"-^'' "^"L "^^'."^y ^^'^^^ *"^ i -•>' resolved ; 
lut all wandering mothers Down. AH young mothers of 

f ts and kmds, its n.y determination to J'u Down 

i»'..U thmk to plead illness as an excuse with me ; or babies 

as an excu.se w.th me; ^or all sick persons and yCung c 1 

.an (I hope you know the church service, but In, afraid 

ot) I am determmed to Put Down. And^f you attempt 

speratcy, and ungratefully, and impiously, and fraudulent J 

In ^u\u •'"'"-' "'i!'^^ "l^ "^y "^'"^ ^° J'"^ ^^ suicide 
7 ; If there ,s one thmg," said the Alderman, with his 
.elf.sat..sfied sm.le, "on which I can be s^iid to have made 
up my mmd more than on another, it is to Put suTdde 
l»-vn. So don't try ,t on. That's the phras^ isn't it ? Ha. 
ha! now we understand each other" wir na, 

Toby knew not whether to be agonized or glad to see that 
Meg had turned a deadly white.%nd dropped herlove^^s 

"As for you. you dull dog," said the Alderman, turning 

ith '"wh T'""'^^^ cheerfulness and urbanity to the young 

ini.th, what a^e you thmkmg of being married for? What 

ao you want to be marriea for, you silly fellow ? If I was a 

'>ne, young strappmg chap like you, I should be ashamed 

f being milksop enough to pin myself to a woman's apron- 

.ings! Why. shell be an old woman before you're a 

inltf^^ ,T"-- "^"^ '" P'"^">' ^g"'-^ y^"'" ^''^ then, wi-h 

it. !£ K '"^ ""'"^ ^""^ ^ "'■^'^^ of squalling children crying 
after you wherever you go ! " * o / f. 

Oh he knew how to banter the common people, Alderman 

rJ^'r^^'n ?" I^"""^ T^^ y*'"'" ^'^ t^« Alderman, "and 
rep..ic. Don t make such a fool of yourself as to t?et Carried 






t.. 



I 



h 



'94 THE CHIMES. 

on New Year's Day. You'll think very differently of it lor, 

sk'^.T* New \ ear's I)ay~a trim young fellow like y.-, 
"^ou !^ ^ ""^ ^^^^' y°"' '^'^^'^ ^ ^ along iith 

They went along. Not arm in arm, or hand in hand . 
'" f S "^I"^. bf'ght glances ; but she in tears, he glooir, 
and down-looking. Were these the hearts that had so lat. 
made old Foby's leap up from its faintness? No, no. Th 
Alderman (a blessing on his head !) had Put /A^m Down 
As you happen to be here," said the Alderman to '!>,}) 

you shall carry a letter for me. Can you be quick ? You: 
an old man." ^ 

Toby, who had been looking after Meg, quite stupidly made 
sh ft to murmur out that he was very quick and veVy stron 

• How old are you ? " inquired the Alderman. 

I' Im over sixty» Sir," said Toby. 

" Oh ! This man's a great deal past the a^'erage age, yo: 
know," cned Mr. Filer, breaking in as if his patilnce ^ou ■ 
too'far"'^ ^^y'"& but this really was carrying matters a litt ' 

"I feel I'm intruding. Sir," said Toby. " I-I misdoubtcc 
It this morning. Oh dear me ! " 

The Alderman cut him short by giving him the letter fror. 
his pocket. Toby would have got a shilling too: but M^ 
Piler clearly showing that in that case he would rob a cert'ai i 
given number of persons of ninepence-halfpenny a piece \-> 
only got sixpence, and thought himself very well off o'- 
that. ' 

.J^^V^A ^^"^^V^^" /^^^ ^" a"''" to each of his friends, 
and walked off m h.gh feather; but immediately came burn 
mg back alone, as if he had forgotten somethin«{. 
Porter ! " said the Alderman. 
"Sir!" said Toby. 

handlome "^^ °^ ^^^' daughter of yours. She's much toe 

" Even her good looks are stolen from somebody or othe^ 
I suppose," thought Toby, looking at the sixpence in ii 
hand and thinking of the tripe. " She's been and robbec 
^ve hundred ladies of a bloom apiece, I shouldn't wonder, 
It s very dreadful ! " 



1 



I 



ii 



r it lonj 
ike y( 
>ng witij 

land, 



wn. 

) To} 
You' 



THE nilMES. 195 

" She's much too handsome, my man," repeated the Alder- 

lan I he chances are that she'll come to no good 1 

r^K '' V K u ^u^'^'^'*-" ^^""^ ^ ^y- Take care of her ! " 
i\ith which he hurried off again. 

doo l-''^^'^!!? r^7 "^""y- ^^''■°"g every way," said Trottv 
o lal:: r •!•;!;• "K !;'-^ ^ands. » Bom bad. No business here I » ^' 

-d. ^^.n'"i T"" "^^^•^'^'"8,'" "P"" him as he said the 
rds. Pull, loud and soundmg-but with no encourage- 
cnt. No, not a drop. * 

"The tune's changed « cried the old man, as he listened, 
rhcres not a word of all that fancy in it. Why should 

V midc^u ''m ^ ^V""" "° busmess with the New Year, nor with 

y maucfce „id q^^. neither. I^t me die ' " 

'^^0"g I Still the Bells, pealing forth their changes, mat? !he verv 

■" !f '"1^ a"^ '^"? "^"i"^"' ^'"^ ''^"^ ^o^'" ■' <^ood Old Times. 
.ood old l.mes! Facts and f.gures. Facts and figure' 

A .K nwK' ^u^ ^'^r i'^l'' • ^^ ^^^y said anything they 
lid this, till the brain of Toby reeled 

He pressed his bewildered head between his hands, as if 
oubtcci' ^^^A ^°'"/Pjl«'"g asunder. A well-timed action as it 
°"^^^|3ppened ; for finding the letter in one of them, and bdng 

r fror.K, ht T^T. '^"''''i'''^ «^ ^'^ charge, he fell mechanically 
jt M^l °^' a"d trotted off. ' 

:ertai: 
;ce, h 



?e, yo: 

WO'J.Cl 

a litt!'. 



.0 gc 



THE SECOND QUARTER. 

^HF letter Toby had received from Alderman Cute was 
iddressed to a great man in the great district of the town 
Ihe greatest district of the town. It must have been the 
frh ir ^f "ct of the town, because it was commonly called 
The World by its inhabitants. ^ 

The letter positively seemed heavier in Toby's hand than 
another letter. Not because the Alderman had sealed it 
«uh a very large coat of arms and no end of wax, but be- 
muse of the weighty name on the superscription, and the 

"How different from us!" thought Toby, in all simplicity 
><i earnestness, as he looked at the direction. « Divide the 



•iendi 
burn 



h toe 

other. 
:n hiS 
)bbed 
)nder. 



19^ THE CHIMES, 

lively turtles in the bills of mortality by the number of 
gentlefolks able to buy 'em, and whose share does he take 
but his own ? As to snatching tripe from anybody's mouth— 
he'd scorn it ! " 

With the involuntary homage due to such an exalted 
character, Toby nterposed a corner of his apron between 
the letter and his fingers. 

"His children," said Trotty, and a mist rose before his 
eyes ; " his daughters — Gentlemen may win their hearts and 
marry them ; they may be happy wives and mothers ; thty 
may be handsome like my darling M — e — " 

He couldn't finish her name. The final letter swelled in 
his throat to the size of the whole alphabet. 

" Never mind," thought Trotty. " I know what I mean. 
That's more than enough for me." And with this consolatory 
rumination, trotted on. 

It was a hard frost that day. The air was bracing, crisp, 
and clear. The wintry sun, though powerless for warmth, 
looked brightly down upon the ice it was too weak to melt. 
and set a radiant glory there. At other times Trotty might 
have learned a poor man's lesson from the wintry sim ; but 
he was past that now. 

The Year was Old that day. The patient Year had lived 
through the reproaches and misuses of its slanderers, anci 
faithfully performed its work. Spring, summer, autumn. 
winter. It had laboured through the destined round, and 
no'v laid down its weary head to die. Shut out from hoj)e, 
high impulse, active happiness itself, but messenger of manv 
joys to others, it made appeal in its decline to have its toiling 
days and patient hours remembered, and to die in peacJ. 
Trotty might have read a poor man's allegory in the fadin, 
year ; but he was past that now. 

And only he? Or has the like appeal been ever made bv 
seventy years at once upon an English labourer's head, and 
made in vain ? 

The streets were full of motion, and the shops were decked 
out gaily. The New Year, like an Infant Heir to the whole 
world, was waited for with welcomes, presents, and rejoicings. 
There were books and toys for the New Year, glittering 
trinkets for the New Year, dresses for the New Year, schem^ 



THE CHIMES. 



IQ7 



of fortune for the New Year ; new inventions to beguile U. 

lt> life was parcelled out in almanacs and i)ocket-books ; 

:he coming of its moons, and stars, and tides was known 
lelorehand to the moment ; all the workings of its seasons in 
n-ir days and nights were calculated with as much precision 

iS Mr. Filer could work sums in men and women. 
The New Year, the New Year! Everywhere the New 

\ car ! The Old Year was already looked upon as dead, and 

i'.s effects were selling cheap, like some drowned mariners 

u'joard ship. Its patterns were Last Year's, and going at a 

vurifice, before its breath was gone. Its treasures were mere 

dirt beside the riches of its unborn successor ! 
Trotty had no portion, to his thinking, in the New Year or 

ihe Old. 

" Put 'em down, put 'em dcwn, Facts and figures. Facts 
and figures, Good old Times, good old Times. Put 'em 
down, put 'em down "—his trot went to that measure, and 
vvould fit itself to nothing else. 

But even that one, melancholy as it was, brought him, in 
due time, to the ^ nd of his journey— to the mansion of Sir 
Joseph Bowley, Member of Parliament. 

The door was opened by a Porter. Such a Porter ! Not 
of Toby's order. Quite another thing. His place was the 
cicket though ; not Toby's. 

This Porter underwent some hard panting before he could 
speak, haying breathed himself by coming incautiously out 
of his chair without first taking time to think about it and 
compose his mind. When he had found his voice — which it 
:ook him some time to do, for it was a long way off, and 
idden under a load of meat— he said in a fat whisper, — 

"Who's it from?" 

Toby told him, 

"You're to take it in yourself," said the Porter, pointing 
io a room at the end of a long passage opening from the 
hall.^ '« Everything goes straight in on this day of the year. 
Vou're not a bit too soon, for the carriage is at the door now, 
and they have only come to town for a couple of hours a' 
purpose." 

Toby wiped his feet (which were quite dry already) with 
great care, and took the way pointed out to him, observing 









igS THE CHIMES. 

as he went that it was an awfully grand house, but hushed 
and covered up, as if the family were in the country. Knock 
ing at the room door, he was told to enter from within ; and 
doing so, found himself in a spacious library, where, at a 
table strewn with files and papers, were a stately lady in a 
bonnet, and a not very stately gentleman in black, who wrote 
from her dictation ; while another, and an older and a much 
statelier gentleman, whose hat and cane were on the tabk, 
walked up and down with one hand in his breast, and looked 
complacently from time to time at his own picture — a full 
length, a very full length — hanging over the fireplace. 

"What is this?" said the last-named gentleman. "Mr. 
Fish, will you have the goodness to attend ? " 

Mr. Fish begged pardon, and taking the letter from Toby, 
handed it with great respect. 

" From Alderman Cute, Sir Joseph." 

" Is this all ? Have you nothing else, Porter ? " inquired 
Sir Joseph. 

Toby replied in the negative. 

"You have no bill or demand upon me — my name is 
Bowley, Sir Joseph Bowley — of any kind from anybody, 
have you?" said Sir Joseph. "If you have, present it. 
There is a cheque-book by the side of Mr. Fish. I allow 
nothing to be carried into the New Year. Every description 
of account is settled in this house at the close of the old one. 
So that if death was to — to " 

" To cut," suggested Mr. Fish. 

"To sever, sir," returned Sir Joseph, with great asperity, 
"the cord of existence, my affairs would be found, I hope, 
in a state of preparation." 

" My dear Sir Joseph ! " said the lady, who was greatly 
younger than the gentleman. " How shocking ! " 

" My Lady Bowley," returned Sir Joseph, floundering now 
and then, as in the great depth of his observations, " at this 
season of the year we should think of — of — ourselves. We 
should look into our — our accounts. We should feel that 
every return of so eventful a period in human transactions 
involves matter j; of deep moment between a man and his— 
and his banker." 

Sir Joseph delivered these words as if he felt the full 



THE CHIMES. I99 

morality of what he was saying, and desired that even Trotty 
should have an opportunity of being improved by such 
discourse. Possibly he had this end before him in still 
forbearing to break the seal of the letter, and in telling Trotty 
to wait where he was a minute. 

" You were desiring Mr. Fish to say, my lady — " observed 
Sir Joseph. 

"Mr. Fish has said that, I believe," returned his lady, 
glancing at the latter. •' But, upon my word, Sir Joseph, I 
don't think I can let it go after all. It is so very dear." 

" What is dear ? " inquired Sir Joseph. 

"That Charity, my love. They only allow two votes for a 
subscription of five pounds. Really monstrous ! " 

" My Lady Bowley," returned Sir Joseph, " you surprise me. 
Is the luxury of feeling in proportion to the number of votes ; 
or is it, to a rightly-constituted mind, in proportion to the 
number of applicants, and the wholesome state of mind to 
which their canvassing reduces them? la there no excite- 
ment of the purest kind in having two votes to dispose of 
among fifty people ? " 

"Not to me, I acknowledge," returned the lady. "It 
bores one. Besides, one can't oblige one's acquaintance. 
But you are the Poor Man's Friend, you know. Sir Joseph. 
You think otherwise." 

''I am the Poor Man's Friend," observed Sir Joseph, glan- 
cing at the poor mar present. " As such I may be taunted. 
As such I have been taunted. But I ask no other title." 

" Bless him for a noble gentleman ! " thought Trotty. 

"I don't agree with Cute here, for instance," said Sir 
Joseph, holding out the letter. " I don't agree with the Filer 
party. I don't agree with any party. My friend the Poor 
Man has no business with anything of that sort, ar a nothing 
of that sort has any business with him. My friend the Poor 
Man, in my district, is my business. No man or body ot 
men has any right to interfere between my friend and me. 
That is the ground I take. I assume a — a paternal character 
towards my friend. I say, * My good fellow, I will treat you 
paternally.' " 

Toby listened with great gravity, and began to feel more 

comfortable. 

7a 



-"nm 



200 



THE CHIMES. 



Ill 



*' Your only business, my good fellow," pursued Sir Joseph, 
looking abstractedly at Toby — " your only business in life is 
with me. You needn't trouble yourself to think about any- 
thing. I will think for you ; I know what is good for you ; I 
am your perpetual parent. Such is the dispensation of an 
all-wise Providence ! Now, the design of your creation is, 
not that you should swill, and guzzle, and associate your 
enjoyments, brutally, with food" — Toby thought remorse- 
fully of the tripe — " but that you should feel the Dignity of 
Labour ; go forth erect into the cheerful morning air, and— 
and stop there. Live hard and temperately, be respectful, 
exercise your self-denial, bring up your family on next to 
nothing, pay your rent as regularly as the clock strikes, be 
punctual in your dealings (I set you a good example ; you 
will find Mr. Fish, my confidential secretary, with a cash-box 
before him at all times), and you may trust me to be your 
Friend and Father." 

" Nice children, indeed, Sir Joseph ! " said the lady, with a 
shudder. " Rheumatisms, and fevers, and crooked legs, and 
asthmas, and all kinds of horrors ! " 

" My lady," returned Sir Joseph, with solemnity, " not the 
less am I the Poor Man's Friend and Father. Not the less 
shall he receive encouragement at my hands. Every quarter- 
day he will be put in communication with Mr. Fish. Every 
New Year's Day myself and friends will drink his health. 
Once every year myself and friends will address him with 
the deepest feeling. Once in his life he may even perhaps 
receive, in public, in the presence of the gentry, a Trifle from 
a Friend- And when, upheld no more by these stimulants, 
and the Dignity of Labour, he sinks into his comfortable 
grave, tlien, my lady " — here Sir Joseph blew his nose — " I 
will be a Friend and Father — on the same terms — to his 
children." 

Toby was greatly moved. 

" Oh ! You have a thankful family. Sir Joseph ! " cried 
his wife. 

" My lady," said Sir Joseph, quite majestically, " Ingrati- 
tude is known to be the sin of that class. I expect no other 
return." 

"Ah I Born bad !" thought Toby. "Nothing melts us i" 



THE CHIMES. 



90i 



"What man can do, 7 do," pursued Sir Joseph. " I do 
my duty as the Poor Man's Friend and Father ; and I en- 
deavour to educate his mind by inculcating on all occasions 
the one great moral lesson which that class requires. That 
is. entire Dependence on myself. They have no business 
whatever with— with themselves. If wicked and designing 
persons tell them otherwise, and they become impatient and 
discontented, and are guilty of insubordinate conduct and 
black-hearted ingratitude, which is undoubtedly the case, I 
am their Friend and Father still. It is so Ordained. It' is 
in the nature of things." 

With that great sentiment, he opened the Alderman's 
letter, and read it. 

"Very polite and attentive, I am sure I" exclaimed Sir 
Joseph. « My lady, the Alderman is so obliging as to re- 
mind me that he has had 'the distinguished honour'— he is 
very good — of meeting me at the house of our mutual friend 
Deedles, the banker; and he does me the favour to inquire 
whether it will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put 
down." 

"Mosf agreeable!" replied my Lady T^owley. "The 
worst man among them! He has been committing a 
robbery, I hope?" 

" Why, no," said Sir Joseph, referring to the letter. « Not 
quite. Very near. Not quite. He came up to London, it 
seems, to look for employment (trying to better himself— 
that's his story), and being found at night asleep in a shed 
was taken into custody, and carried next morning before the 
Alderman. The Alderman observes (very properly) that he 
IS determined to put this sort of thing down; and that if it 
will be agreeable to me to have Will Fern put down, he will 
1x3 happy to begin with him." 

" Let him be made an example of, by all means," returned 
the lady. _ " Last winter, when I introduced pinking and 
tyelet-holeing among the men and boys in the village as a 
nice evening employment, and had the lines. 

Oh, let us love our occupations, 
Bless the squire and his relations, 
Live upon our daily rations, 
And always know oar proper stationg. 






fl03 



THE CHIMES. 



it J : I 




set to music on the new system for them to sing the while, 
this very Fern— I see him now— touched that hat of his, and 
said, * I humbly ask your pardon, my lady, but ain't I some- 
thing different from a great girl ? ' I expected it, of course ; 
who can expect anything but insolence and ingratitude from 
that class of people ? That is not to the purpose, however, 
Sir Joseph ! Make an example of him ! " 

" Hem ! » coughed Sir Joseph. " Mr. Fish, if you'll have 

the goodness to attend " 

Mr. Fish immediately seized his pen, and wrote from Sir 
Joseph's dictation. 

" Private. My dear Sir,— I am very much indebted to you 
for your courtesy in the matter of the man William Fern, 
of whom, I regret to add, I can say nothing favourable. I 
have uniformly considered myself in the light of his Friend 
and Father, but have been repaid (a common case, I grieve 
to say) with ingratitude and constant opposition to my plans. 
He IS a turbulent and rebellious spirit. His character will 
not bear investigation. Nothing will persuade him to be 
happy when he might. Under these circumstances, it ap- 
pears to me, I own, that when he comes before you again 
\^ you informed mc he promised to do to-morrow, pending 
your inquiries, and I think he may be so far relied upon), 
his committal for some short term as a Vagabond would be 
a service to society, and would be a salutary example in a 
country where— for the sake of those who are, through good 
and evil report, the Friends and Fathers of the Poor, as wefl 
iT^ with a view to that, generally speaking, misguided class 
themselves- examples are greatly needed. And I am," and 
so forth. 

"It appears," remarked Sir Joseph, when he had signed 
this letter, and Mr. Fish was sealing it, "as if this were 
Ordained-^^eally. At the close of the year, I wind up my 
account and strike my balance, even with William Fern ! " 

Trotty, who had long ago relapsed, and was very low- 
spinted, stepped forward with a rueful face to take the 
letter. 

"With my compliments and thanks," said Sir Joseph. 
** Stop I " 
" Stop 1 ** echoed Mr. Fish. 



£ 



\ 



THE CHIMES. 



203 



You have heard, perhaps," said Sir Joseph oracularly 
"certain remarks into which I have been led resoeS 
the solemn period of time at which we have arrived and 

llS 'T'"l "P°"u"' °^ ^^""^'"g o"'- ^ff^'^S' ^nd being 
Eh t " ^^""^ °^'"''^^^ '^^^ I d^"'t shelter mysell 
behmd my superior standing in society, but that Mr. Fish- 
hat gentleman -has a cheque-book at his elbow, and is in 
fact here, to enable me to turn over a perfectly new leaf and 
enter on the epoch before us with a dean aLunt Now 
my fnend can you la) your hand upon your heart, and say 
that you also have made preparation for a New Year?" ^ 
him -^Zf^\ ' ^''■'" ^!?"?™f '•ed Trotty. looking meekly al 
^'R.h^^ K "i ^""" l~^u'^^ behind-hand with the world." 

Behind-hand with the world!" repeated Sir Joseph 
Bowley, in a tone of terrible distinctness. *' ^ 

I am afraid. Sir," faltered Trotty, "tha^ there's a matter 
of ten or tweh-e shillings owing to ^J'rs. ChickensLlker." '' 

sa.e'^tlfa's b""^^'"'" ^^^^^^^^ ^'^ J^^P^' - the 

Mso\'^^\^y exclaimed Toby, "In tVo general line. 
Also a-a little money on account of rent. A very little 
St. It oughtn't to be owing. I know, but we have been 
hard put to it, indeed ! " 

Trol[v•^nn?^/°°^^^ u ^'' >^>'' ^"^ ^t Mr. Fish, and at 
Trotty, one after another, twice all round. He then made 

a despondent gesture with both h.nds at once, as if he eave 
the thing up altogether. ^ 

"How a man, even among this improvident and imprac- 

Aew Year m the face, with his anairs in this condition ■ how 
he can he down on his bed at night, and get up aSh^ in thi 
morning and-There!" he said, turning his back ?n Trotty 
Take the letter. Take the letter ! " ^ 

" I heartily wish it was otherwise. Sir," said Trottv anxious 
to excuse himself. « We have beel. tried very h?rd^' ' 

letfert»°^S J''"^'?'^''"^'/''^^'^^ '^^ letter, "take the 
LvnJ JSv ; ^r'^' "°' °"^y '^y'"g ^he sam. thing, but 
E rn /h "/^ ^T\'°, the request by motioning the 

bSr Lh ll/ T k" ^^^ r'^'"g ^""^ 't b^t to make his 
Oow and leave the house. And in the street, poor Trotty 



\ 



t 



h-. 



•"WP 




THE CHIME& 

pulled his worn old hat down on his head, to hide the grief 
he felt at getting no hold on the New Year, anywhere. 

He didn't even lift his hat to look up at the Bell tower 
when he came to the old church on his return. He halted 
there a moment, from habit, and knew that it was growing 
dark, and that the steeple rose above him, indistinct and 
faint, in the murky air. He knew, too, that the chimes would 
ring immediately; and that they sounded to his fancy, at 
such a time, like voices in the clouds. But he only made 
the more haste to dehver the Alderman's letter, and { t out 
of the way before they began ; for he dreaded to hear them 
tagging " Friends and Fathers, Friends and Fathers," to the 
burden they bad rung out last 

Toby discharged himself of his commission, therefore, 
with an possible speed, aiid set off trotting homeward. But 
what with his pace, which wai at best an awkward one in the 
street, and what with his hat, which didn't improve it, he 
trotted against somebody in less than no time, and wjis sent 
staggering out into the road. 

"I beg your pardon, I'm sure!" said Trotty, pulling up 
his hat in great confusion, and between the hat and the tern 
lining, fixing his head into a kind of bee-hive. " I hope I 
haven't hurt you." 

As to hurting anybody, Toby was not such aai absolute 
Samson but that he was much more likely to be hurt him- 
self; and, in^^aed, he had flown out into the road like a 
! huttlecock. He had such an opinion of his own strength, 
however, that he was in real concern for the other party, and 
said again, — 

" I hope I haven't hurt you ? " 

The man against whom he had run — a sun-browned, sinew7, 
country-looking man, with grizzled hair, and a rough chin- 
stared at him for a moment, as if he suspected him to be in 
jest. But satisfied of his good faith; he answered, — 

" No, fiiend ; you have not hurt me." 

" Nor the child, I hope?" said Trotty. 

" Nor the child," returned the man. " I thank you kindly/ 

As he said so, he glanced at a little girl he carried in his 
arms, asleep ; and shading her face with the long snd of the 
poor handkerchief he wore about hi& throat, went slowly on. 



THE CHIMES. jM 

The tone in which he said, "I thank you kindly," pene- 

tra ed 1 rotty's heart. He was so jaded and footsore and ^ 

soued With travel, and looked about him so forlorn an^ 

strange, that it was a comfort to him to be able to thank any 

"'"I "° ,!;;t5'!? ^""^ ^r ^'"'^' '^'°^y «*°"d gating after hS 

.Vt the figure in the worn shocvc -now the very shade and 
ghost of shoes-Tough leather leggings. comn>on frock! and 

t:^ef And :?t^' w\T ^^«^1.g^"g' blind to the ihole 
R.;^rA ^e/^'W's arm, clmging round its neck. 
Before he merged mto the darkness, the traveller stooned • 
and looking round, and seeing Trotty s'tand there yet seemed 
undecided whether to return or go on. After doing first^^ 
one and then he other, he came back; and Trotty wem 
half way to meet hmi. ^ 

smilJ°"' w If I "'^' P%'^^P''" '^'^ '^^ '"^"^ ^'ith a faint 
sn lie— and if you can, I am sure you wi!' and I'd rather 
ask you than another-where Alderman Cute lives." 

Close at hand," rep'.ed Toby. " m show you his hotise 
with pleasure. 

"I was to have gone to him elsewhere to-morrow," said 
the man, accompanying Toby, " but I'm uneasy under sms- 
picion, and want to clear myself, and to be free to go and 
seek my bread-I don't know where. So maybe he'll for 
give my going to his house to-night." 

name'l^Femr'^'''" '"'^ '"'^^^ "'^^ " ^^"^^' "^^^^ >'«"'• 

"F.^n" w-n ?^ °M>^'' ^T^'""^ "" ^^"^ •" astonishment. 
I'ern ! Will Fern ! " said Trotty. 

II That's my name," replied the other. 
Why, then," cried Trotty, seizing him by the arm, and 
ooking cautiously round, "for Heaven's sake don't go "o 
eTr vo?° ' ^K '° ^'S' "^'" P"* y«" down as sure as 

0? Jh?. T"' ^"""-i. ^"'^ • ^"^^^ "P '^^' ^"^X' ^^ I'» tell 
J oil what I mean. Don't go to Aim." 

h,t"Kl"i!r ^^/l"^^"tance looked as if he thought him mad : 
shl,1^2. ' V'^P^"^ neverthelr .. When they were 
Shrouded from observation. Trotty told him what he knew, 
and what character he had received, and all about k. 



1- 



200 



THE CHIMES. 



M 



The subject of his history listened to it with a calmness 
that surprised him. He did not contradict or interrupt it 
once. He nodded his head now and then — more in cor- 
roboration of an old and worn-out story, it appeared, than 
in refutation of it; and once or twice threw back his hat. 
and passed his freckled hand over a brow where evtry 
furrow he had ploughed seemed to have set its image in 
little. But he did no more. 

" It's true enough in the main," he said, " master. I could 
sift grain from husk here and there, but let it be as 'tis. 
What odds? I have gone against his plans— to my mis- 
fortun'. I can't help it; I should do the like to-morrow. 
As to character, them gentlefolks will search and fcirch. 
and pry and pry, and have it as free from spot or speck in 
us, afore they'll help us to a dry good word ! Well ! I ho{x; 
they don't lose good opinion as easy as we do, or their lives 
is strict indeed, and hardly worth the keeping. For myself. 
master, I never took with that hand " — holding it before him 
— " what wasn't my own ; and never held it back from work. 
however hard, or poorly paid. Whoever can deny it, let him 
chop it off! But when work won't maintain me like a human 
creetur ; when my living is so bad, that I am Hungry, out 
of doors and in ; when I see a .vhole working life begin that 
way, go on that way, and end ihat way, without a chance or 
change; then I say to the g-ntlefolks, 'Keep away from mc' 
Let my cottage be. My doors is dark enough without your 
darkening of 'em more. Don't look for me to come up into 
the Park to help the show when there's a Birthday, or a fine 
Speechmaking, or what not. Act your Plays and Games 
without me, and be welcome to 'em and enjoy 'em. We've 
nought to do with one another. I'm best let alone ! ' " 

Seeing that the child in his arms had opened her eyes, and 
was looking about her in wonder, he checked himself to sav 
a word or two of foolish prattle in her ear, and stand her on 
the ground beside him. Then slowly winding one of her 
long tresses round and round his rough forefinger like a ring. 
while she hung about his dusty leg, he said to Trotty, — 

"I'm not a cross-grained man by natur', I believe; and 
easy satisfied, I'm sure. I bear no ill-will against none ot 
em ; I only want to live like one of the Almighty's creeturs 



U. 



THE CHIMES. 



207 



I can t, I don't ; and so there's a pit dug between mc and 

hem that can and do. 'Ihere's others hke me. You might 

teil 'em off by hundreds and by thousands, sooner than by 

ones." ' 

Trotty knew he spoke the Truth in this, and shook his 
head to signify as much. 

" I've got a bad name this way," said Fern ; "and I'r^ r.ot 
hl-L-ly, I'm afea-d, to get a better. "1 ain't lawful to he out of 
sorts, and I am out of sorts, though Cod knows I'd sooner 
hear a cheerful spirit if I could. Well ! I don't know as this 
Alderman could hurt me much by sending me to jail • 1 ut 
without a friend to speak a word for me, he might dc^ it 

and you see 1" pointing downward with his finger it 

the child. ** 

" She has a beautiful face," said Trotty. 

"Why, yes ! " replied the other in a low voice, as he gently 
turned It up with botli his hands towards his own, and looked 
lyon It steadfastly. " I've thought so many times. I've 
thought so when rny hearth was very cold and cupboard very 
bare. I thought so t'other right, when we were taken like 
two thieves. But they— they shouldn't try the little face too 
often, should they, Lilian ? That's hardly fair upon a man ! " 

He sunk his voice so low, and gazed upon her with an air 
so siern and strange, that Toby, to divert the current of his 
thoughts, inquired if his wife were living. 

•' I never had one," he returned, shaking his head. " She's 
my brother's child; an orphan. Nine year old, though 
you'd hardly think it; but she's tired and worn out now. 
They'd have taken care on her— the Union; eight -and- 
twenty mile away from where we live— between four walls (as 
they took care of my old father when he couldn't work no 
more, though he didn't trouble 'em long) ; but I took her 
instead, and she's lived with me ever since. Her mother 
had a friend once, in London here. We are trying to find 
her, and to find work too; but it's a large place. Never 
mind. More room for us to walk about in," Lilly ! " 

Meeting the child's eyes with a smile which melted Toby 
more than tears, he shook him by the hand. 

" T don't so much as know your name," he said, "but IVe 
opened my heart free to you, for I'm tliankful to you, with 



^^ 



206 



THE CHIMES. 



good reasori. Ill take your advice, and keep clear o( 
this " K «« « 

"Justice," sujjgt'stcd Toby. 

••Ah I" he saiil. "If that's the name they give him 
Ihis Justice. And to-morrow will try v' jthcr there's beUa 
fortun' to be met with, somewheres r .• London. Good 
night. A Happy New Year ! " 

••Stay!" cried Trotty, catching at his hand as he relaxc' 
his grip. "Stay! The New Year never con be happy t< 
/ne if we part like this. The New Year never can be happv 
to me if I see the chi'd and you go wandering away y.ji 
don't know where, without a shelter for your neads. Comr 
h )me with me ! ^'m a poor man, living in a poor place 
bur I can give yoi Iging for one night and never miss it 
Come home with me ! Here ! I'll take her ! " cried Trottv 
hfting up the child. "A pretty one! I'd carry twenu 
times her weight, and never know I'd got it. Tell me if I 
go too quick for you. I'm very fast. I always was" 
Trotty said this, taking about six of his trotting paces i. 
one stride of his fatigued companion, and with his thin Iclts 
quivering again, beneath the load he bore. 

••^Vhy, she's as lig' %" said Trotty, trotting in his speech 
as well as in his gait— for he couldn't bear to be thanked 
and dreaded a moment's pause— "as light as a feather. 
Lighter than a Peacock's ather— a great deal lighter. Hen 
we are, and h, re we go : Round this first turning to the 
nght, Uncle Vull, and pa>t the pump, and sharp ofT up the 
passage to the left, right opposite the public-house. He 
>se are, and here we go ! ( toss over, Uncle Will, and minu 
the kidney pieman at the corner ! Here we are, and here 
we go! Dowr; the Mews 1 ere, Uncle Will, and stop at the 
bbck door, vnth •T. Veck, Ticket Porter' wrote upon a 
board ; and here we are, and here we go, and here we are 
indeed, my precious Meg, surprising you ! " 

With which words Trotty, in a breathless state, set the 
child down before his daughter in the middle of the floor 
The httle visitor looked once at xMeg, and doubting nothi ^ 
m that face, but trusting everything she saw there, ran irto 
her arms. 

"Here we are, and here we go I" cried Trotty. running 



THE CHIMBa 



»^ 



rotind the room, and choking audibly. "Here! tJncIc 

u »• ^"^^^l * ^"'*^' >'"" ^"°^' ^^hy <ion't you come to 
the fire? Oh, here we are, and here we go! Mck mv 
precious darhng, where's the kettle ? Here it is, and here it 
goes, and it'll bile in no time I " 

Trotty really had picked up the kettle somewhere or other 
in the course of his wild career, and now put it on the fire : 
while Meg, seating the child in a warm comer, knelt down 
on the ground before her, and pulled off her shoes, and dried 
her wet feet on a cloth. Ay, and she laughed at Trolly 
too-so pleasantly, so cheerfully, that Trotty could have 
blessed her where she kneeled ; for he had seen ^hat, when 
they entered, she was sitting by the fire in tears. 

"Why, father 1 " said Meg. " You're crazy to-night, I 
i ..Ilk. I don t know what the Bells would say to that Poor 
little teet How cold they are ! " 

" Oh, they're warmer now ! " exclaimed the child. ' They're 
quite warm now ! " ' 

"No, no, no," sairi Meg. "We haven't rubbed 'em half 
enough. Wre so busy— so busy! And when they're 
done, well brush out the damp hair; and when that's done 
well bnng some colour to the poor pale face, with fresh 
water; and when that's done, we'll be so gay, and brisk, and 
happy 1" 

The child, in a burst of sobbing, clasped her round the 
neck, caressed her fair cheek with its hand, and said. "Oh 
Meg ! oh, dear Meg ! " 

Toby's blessing could have done no more. Who could 
do more ? 

" Why, father ! " cried Meg, after a pause. 

" Here I am, and here I go, my dear," said Trotty. 

"Good gracious me!" cried Meg. '"He's cra/y ' He's 
put the dear child's bonnet on the kettle, and hung the l-' 
^)ehmd the door ! " 5 ^ - 

" I didn't go to do it, my love," said Trotty, hastily repair- 
ing this mistake. " Meg, my dcur I " 

Meg looked towards him and saw that he had elaboratt;.y 
stationed himself behind the chair of their male visitor, 
where, with many mysterious gestures, he was holding m 
the sixpence he had earned * 



1^ 



2IO 



THE CHIMES. 



"I see, my dear," sa" Trotty, "as I was coming in, hai 
an ounce of tea lying somewhere on the stairs; and I'rc 
pretty sure there was a bit of bacon too. As 1 don't remem- 
ber where it was exactly, I'll go myself and try to find 'em. 

With this inscrutable artifice, Toby withdrew to purchasu 
the viands he had spoken of, for ready money, at Mrs. 
Chickenstalker's ; and presently came back, pretending that 
he had not been able to find them at first in the dark. 

"But here they are, at last, ' said Trotty, setting out the 
tea-things, " all correct ! I was pretty sure it was tea, and a 
rasher. So it is. Meg, my Pet, if you'll just make the tea, 
while your unworthy father toasts the bacon, we shall be 
ready immediate. It's a curious circumstance," said Trotty, 
proceeding in his cookery, with the assistance of the toasting- 
fork—" curious, but well known to my friends — that I never 
care, myself, for rashers, nor for tea. I like to see other 
people enjoy 'em," said Trotty, speaking very loud, to impress 
the fact upon his guest, "but to me, as food, they're dis- 
agreeable." 

Yet Trotty sniffed the savour of the hissing bacon — ah !— 
as if he liked it ; and when he poured the boiling water in 
the teapot, looked lovingly down into the depths of that 
snug caldron, and suffered the fragrant steam to curl about 
his nose, and wreathe his head and face in a thick cloud. 
However, for Jl this, he neither ate nor drank, except, at 
the very beginning, a mere morse/ for form's sake, which he 
appeared to eat with infinite relish, but declared was perfectly 
uninteresting to him. 

No. Trotty's occupation was to see Will Fern and Lilian 
eat and drink ; and so was Meg's. And never did spectators 
at a city dinner or court banquet find such high delight in 
seeing others feast — although it were a monarch or a pope- 
as those two did, m looking on that night. Meg smiled at 
Trutty, Trotty laughed at Meg. Meg shook her head and 
made-belief to clap her hands, applauding Trotty; Trotty 
conveyed, in dumb show, unintelligible narratives of hcnv 
and when and where he had found their visitors, to Meg ; 
and they were happy — very happy. 

"Although," thought Trotty sorrowfully, as he watched 
Meg's face, " that match is broken off, I see I " 



w 



'**H*ft- 



211 

"The 



THE CHIMES. 

"Now, m tell you what," said Trotty, after tea. 
little one, she sleeps with Meg, I know." 

" With good Meg ! " cried the child, caressing her. « With 

Mt'g. 

"^That's right," said Trotty. "And I shouldn't wonder if 
she kiss Meg's father, won't she? /'m Meg's father " 

Mightily delighted Trotty was when the child went timidly 
towards him, and having kissed him, fell back upon Mci 
again. ^ ° 

"She's as sensible as Solomon," said Trotty. "Here we 
come, and here we— no, we don't— I don't mean that— I— 
what was I saying, Meg, my precious ? " 

Meg looked towards their guest, who leaned upon her 
chair, and With his face turned from her, fondled the child's 
head, half hidden in her lap. 

"To be sure," said Toby. " To be sure ! I don't know 
what I m rambling on about to-night. My wits aie wool- 
gathenng, I think. Will Fern, you come along with me 
i ou re tired to death, and broken down for want of rest 
1 ou come along with me." 

The man still played with the child's curls, still leaned 
upon Megs chair, still turned away his face. He didnt 
speak, but in his rough coarse fingers, clenching and expand- 
ing m the fau- hair of the child, there was an eloquence thai 
said enough. 

" Yes, yes," said Trotty, answering unconsciously what he 
saw expressed in his daughter's face. "Take her with you' 
•Vleg. Get her to bed. There! Now, Will, I'll show you 
where you he. It's not much of a place— only a loft ; but 
having a loft, I always say, is one of the great convenience? 
ot hvmg m a mews ; and till this coach-house and stable gets 
a better let, we live here cheap. There's plenty of sweet hay 
up there, belonging to a neighbour ; and it's as clean as 
hands and Meg can make it. Cheer up ! Don't give way. 
■\ new heart for a New Year, always ! " 

The hand, released from the child's hair, had fallen, treni- 
Wing, into Trotty's hand. So Trotty, talking without inter- 
mission, ed him out as tenderly and easily as if he had been 
a child himself. 

Returning before Meg, he listened for an instant at the 



•••i 



3T2 



THE CHIMES. 



door of her little chamber — an adjoining room. The chiM 
was murmuring a simple Prayer before lying down to 
sleep; and when she had remembered Meg's name, "Dearly. 
Dearly" — so her words ran — Trotty heard her stop and a^k 
for his. 

It was some short time before the foolish little old fellow 
could compose himself to mend the fire, and draw his chair 
to the warm hearth. But when he had done so, and had 
trimmed the light, he took his newspaper from his pocket, 
and began to read. Cart-lessly at first, and skimming up and 
down the columns ; but with an earnest and a sad attention, 
very soon. 

For this same dreaded paper redirected Trotty's thoughts 
into the channel they had tiken all that day, rod which the 
day's events had so marked out and shaped. His interest in 
the two wanderers had set him on another course of thinkinL,, 
and a happier one, for the time ; but being alone again, and 
reading of the crimes and violences of the people, he relapsed 
into his former train. 

In this mood, he came to an account (and it was not the 
first he had ever read) of a woman who had laid her desperate- 
hands, not only on her own life, but on that of her young 
child — a crime so terrible, and so revolting to his soul 
dilated with the love of Meg, that he let the journal drop, 
and fell back in his chair, appalled. 

" Unnatural and cruel ! " Toby cried. " Unnatural and 
cruel ! None but people who were bad at heart, bom bad, 
who had no business on the earth, could do such deed?. 
It's too true, all I've heard to-day ; too just, too full of proof. 
We're Bad ! " 

The Chimes took up the words so suddenly — ^burst out so 
k)ud, and clear, and sonorous — that the Bells seemed tc 
strike him in his chair. 

And what was that they said ? 

" Toby Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you, Toby I Tob} 
Veck, Toby Veck, waiting for you, Toby ! Come and sec 
us, come and see us. Drag him to us, drag him to us, Haun: 
and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Break his slumbers, 
break his slumbers ! Toby Veck, Toby Veck, door open 
wide, Toby; Toby Veck, Toby Veck, door open wide, Toby—' 



'~-t , 



THE CHIMES. 213 

then fiercely back to their impetuous strain again, and nne- 
mg in the very bricks and plaster on the walls. 

Toby listened. Fancy, fancy ! His remorse for having 

run away from them that afternoon ! No, no. Nothing of 

the kmd. Agam, again, and yet a dozen times again. 

Haunt and hunt him, haunt and hunt him, Drag him to 

us, drag him to us ! " Deafening the whole town ! 

-Meg," said Trotty softly, tapping at her door, "do you 
hear anything ? " ^ 

"I hear the Bells, father. Surely they're very loud to- 
night ? ^ 

"Is she asleep?" said Toby, making an excuse for peei> 
;ng in. ^ * 

" So peacefully and happily ! " can't leave her yet though, 
father. Look how she holds my hand ! " 
" Meg ! " whispered Trotty, " listen to the Bells ! " 
She listened, with ■ face towards him all the time But 
It underwent no change. She didn't understand them. 

Trotty withdrew, resumed his seat by the fire, and once 
more listened by himself. He remained here a little time. 
It was impossible to bear it ; their energy was dreadful 
"If the tower-door is really open," said Toby, hastily lay- 
ing aside his apron, but never thinking of his hat, "what's to 
,4^%?^ ^'■^"^ g^^"& "P i"to the steeple and satisfying my- 
self? If it's shut, I don't want any other satisfaction. That's 
enough." 

He was pretty certain as he slipped out quietly into the 
street that he should find it shut and locked, for he knew the 
door well, and had so rarely seen it open, that he couldn't 
reckon above three times in all. It was a low arched portal 
outside the church, in a dark nook behind a column ; and 
had such great iron hinges and such a monstrous lock, that 
there was more hinge and lock than door. 

But what was his astonishment when, coming bare-headed 
to the church, and putting his hand into this dark nook— 
with a certain misgiving that it might be unexpectedly 
=ci2cd, and a shivt-nng proj^ensity to draw it back again— he 
found that the door, which opened outwards, actuaUy stood 
ajar ! ^ 

He thought, on the first surprise, of going back, or of get- 



'r ■ 



3T4 



THE CHIMES. 



ting a light, or a companion ; but his courage aided him 
immediately, and he determined to ascend alone. 

"What have I to fear?" said Trotty. "It's a church: 
Besides, the ringers may be there, and have forgotten to shut 
the door." 

So he werit in, feeling his way as he went, like a blinl 
man, for it was very dark. And very quiet, for the Chimes 
were silent. 

The dust from the street had blown into the recess, and 
lying there, heaped up, made it so soft and velvet-like to the 
foot, that ther^ vv^as something startling even in that. The 
narrow stair was so close to the door, toe, that he stumbled 
at the very first ; and shutting the door upon himself, by 
striking it with his foot, and causing it to rebound back 
heavily, he couldn't open it again. 

This was another reason, however, for going on. Trotty 
groped his way, and went on. Up, up, up, and round and 
round ; and up, up, up ; higher, higher, higher up ! 

It was a disagreeable staircase for that groping work ; so 
low and narrow, that his groping hand was al\\ays touching 
something ; and it often felt so like a man or ghostly figua 
standing up erect and making room for him to pass without 
discovery, that he would rub the smooth wall upward search- 
ing for its face, and downward searching for its feet, while a 
chill tingling crept all over him. Twice or thrice a door or 
niche broke the monotonous surface ; and then it seemed a 
gap as wide as the whole church ; and he felt on the brink of 
an abyss, and going to tumble headlong down, until he found 
the wall again. 

Still up, up, up ; and round and round ; and up, up, up ; 
higher, higher, higher up ! 

At length the dull and stifling atmosphere began to freshen ; 
presently to feel quite windy; presently it blew so strong, 
that he could hardly keep his legs. But he got to an arched 
window in the tower, breast-high, and holding tight, lookc 1 
down upon the housetops, on the smoking chimneys, on the 
blurr and blotch of lights (towards the place where Meg was 
wondering where he was, and calling to him perhaps) al! 
kneaded up together in a leaven of mist and darkness. 

This was the belfry, where the ringers came. He had 



THE CHIMES. 21?" 

(aught hold of one of the frayed ropes which hung down 
through apertures m the oaken roof. At first he started, 
tlunking ,t was hair; then trembled at the verv thought of 
vakng the deep BelL The Bells themselves 'were higher 
Higher, rrotty, in his fascination, or in working out the spdi 
upon h,m, groped his way. By ladders now, and toilsomely, 
tor t was steep, and not too certain holding for the feet 

higL';,"4hTr^u;f ^""' '"' ^^^"^'^^^ "P' "P' "P^ ^''g^-' 
Until, ascending through the floor, and pausing with hie 
head just raised above its beams, he came among the ]iells 
It was barely possible to make out their great shapes in 
dumb ; but there they were-shadowy,\nd dark, and 

A heavy sense of dread and loneliness fell instantly upon 

Hk'hI^ ?^' T ^'^ ^''y "^^^ °^ ^t°"^ and metal. 
His head went round and round. He listened, and then 
raised a v/ild " Halloa ! " 
Halloa ! was mournfully protracted by the echoes. 

'.!i; /j^k''°rK ''■'^' ^"^ ?"^ of breath, and frightened, Toby 
iookcd about him vacantly, and sunk down in a swoor^ 



THIRD QUARTER. 

.vh.'^n'^lf %^^^ brooding clouds and troubled the deep waters. 
hen the Sea of Thought, first heaving from a calm, gives up 
Its Lead. Monsters uncouth and wild arise in premature 
imperfect resurrection ; the several parts and shapes of dilfer' 
ent things are joined and mixed by chance ; and when, nnd 
how, and by what wonderful degrees, each separates from 
each and eveiy sense and object of the mind resumes its 
usual form and lives again, no man— though every man is 
every day the casket of this type of the Great Mystery-can 

^So, when and how the darkness of the night-black steeple 
-ranged to shining light ; when and how the solitary to\ver 
!v P^°P^f.^„^'>^h a "myriad figures ; when and libw the 
Hhispered "Haunt and hunt him.'" -^athing mo-.tonously 
through his sleep or swoon, became ice exclaim...g in the 



*'^ THE CHIMES, 

waking ears of Trotty, « Break his slumbers ; " when and how 
he ceased to have a sluggish and confused idea tliat such 
things were, companioning a host of others that were not 
there are no dates or means to tell. But, awake, and stand- 
ing on his feet upon the boards where he had lately lain he 
saw this Goblin Sight 

He saw the tower, whither his charmed footsteps had 
brought him, swarming with dwarf phantoms, spirits, elfir 
creatures of the Bells. He sa-.v them leaping, flying, drop- 
ping, pouring from the Bells without a pause. He saw then 
round him on the ground, above him in the air, clamberin- 
from him by the ropes below, looking down upon him from 
the massive iron-girded beams, peeping in upon him throuuh 
the chinks and loopholes in the walls, spreading away ana 
away from him in enlarging circles, as the water-ripples gi\c 
place to a huge stone that suddenly comes plashing in amonz 
them. He saw them of all aspects and all shapes. He s-uw 
them ugly, handsome, crippled, exquisitely formed. He saw 
them young, he saw them old, he saw them kind, he sa,. 
them cruel, he saw them merry, he saw them grim ; he saw 
them dance, and heard them sing ; he saw them tear their 
hair, and heard them howl. He saw the air thick with them. 
He saw them come and go incessantly. He saw them ridin>^ 
down-vard, soaring upward, sailing off afar, perching near :u 
hand, all restless and all violently active. Stone and bri( k 
and slate and tile became transparent to him as to them. 
He saw them in the houses, busy at the sleepers' beds. He 
saw them soothing people in their dreams ; he saw thcin 
beating them with knotted whips; he saw them yelling in 
their ears; he saw them playing softest music on their 
pillows ; he saw them cheering some with the songs of birds 
and the perfume of flowers ; he saw them flashing awful faces 
on the troubled rest of others, from enchanted mirrors which 
they earned in their hands. 

He saw these creatures, not only among sleeping men bur 
waking also, active in pursuits irreconcilable with one anoth..-, 
and possessing or assuming natures the most opposite. He 
saw one buckling on innumerable wings to increase his speed, 
another loading himself with chains and weights to retard 
nis. He saw some putting the hands of clocks forward, some 






had 



THE CHIMES. 217 

mamage ceremony, there a funeral; in this chamffan eTec 

as ^en"ff ^ ^j; *^ ''°'* °f ?'f""g *"<» extraordinary figure. 

were rinrint'^ T,n.,"PT "^ ">'= ^"^"^ ">'''='' ^' 'W' "Me 
were ringing Trotty dung to a wooden pillar for sunnor. 

^sSnt t:^ ^''^^ ^^^^ ^-^ ^"^ ^^-' - --^^ and ^tuS 

The^ho wl' '^^f ^^'"J"" f °.PP^^ Instantaneous change » 
Ihejhcie swarm fainted; their forms collapsed their sne^H 
deserted them ; they sought to fly, but in ire act JfSinf 
died and melted into air. No fresh suppW succeeded thim^ 

one^Let; could f'' °" V^ '!'' ' ^"^ ^^ ^^ ^^^In^ 
,.une oerore ne could turn round. Some few of fh*> !«**> .,«„, 

I»ny who had gambolled in the towerremined th^rl sZ 

had^onnto i^-' ''^ ^" ^'^ °"^ ^"^a" hunchback, who 

had got nto an echoing corner, where he twirled and t>^^rkd 

»t^.ratt?Tei;?n'd°i:r.n'i:rrd^rtf^ 

Theri, and not before, did Trotty see in everv T^pI. . 
bearded figure of the bulk and statureVthe BeSconte 
hens bly, a figure and the Bell itself. Gigantic e^ave nnH 
darkly watchful of him, as he stood rootedTthe |?und ^ 

Mysterious and a^vful figures ! Resting on nothifg poised 
e d? "J^' 7^' V^" r^^' "^'^h their ^draped SCded 

adowT^rfn h\'^"i1:"^ '•^^^^ "^°^'«"^^^« ^"d shadowy 
■ ^idowy and dark, although he saw them by some li^ht 

"uffl?H 1? '"I'^^'^-^^—on. else was the^'J^ach ^ 
Y-^uffled hand upon its goblin mouth. 

the floor "for "Jln^n""^' down wildly through the opening in 

w^se he wS 1H h^ '^i ""^ "^^''^^ ^^^ ^^^^^^d him Other- 
vnse he would have done so-ay, would have thrown him 
self. hea.d-foremost. from the staple-top, ratL tS^ ty^ 



-mi 



2I8 



THE CHIMES. 



I 



ini i 



seen them watching him with eyes that would have waked 
and watched although the pupils had been taken out. 

Again, again, the dread and terror of the lonely place, and 
of the wild and fearful night that reigned there, touched hin 
like a spectral hand. His disiance from all help ; the lonp. 
dark, winding, ghost-beleaguered way that lay between him 
and the earth on which men lived ; his being high, high, 
high up there, where it had made him dizzy to see the birds 
fly in the day ; cut off from all good people, who at such an 
hour were safe at home and sleeping in their beds,— all this 
struck coldly through him, not as a reflection, but a bodily 
sensation. Meantime, his eyes and thoughts and fears were 
fixed upon the watchful figures ; which, rendered unlike any 
figures of this world by the deep gloom and shade enwrapping 
and enfolding them, as well as by their looks and forms and 
supernatural hovering above the floor, were nevertheless as 
plainly to be seen as were the stalwart oaken frames, cross- 
pieces, bars and beams, set up there to support the Bells. 
These hemmed them in a very forest of hewn timber ; from 
the entanglements, intricacies, and depths of which, as fron; 
among the boughs of a dead wood blighted for their Phantom 
use, they kept their darksome and unwinking watch. 

A blast of air— how cold and shrill !— came moaning 
through the tower. As it died away, the Great Bell, or the 
Goblin of the Great Bell, spoke 

" What visitor is this ? " it said. The voice was low and 
deep, and Trotty fancied that it sounded in the other figures 

as well. 

"I thought my name was called by the Chimes!' said 
Trotty, raising his hands in an attitude of supplication. " I 
hardly know why I am here, or how I came. I have listened 
to the Chimes these many years. They have cheered me 
often." 

" And you have thanked them ? " said the BelL 

" A thousand times ! " cried Trotty. 

"How?" 

"I am a poor man," faltered Trotty, "and could only 

thank them in words." 

"And always so?" inquired the Goblin of the Bell. 
" Have you never done us wrong in words ? " 



THE CHIMES. 219 

" No ! " cried Trotty eagerly. 

"Never done us foul, and false, and wicked wrong in 
words ? " pursued the Goblin of the Bell. 

IVotty was about to answer, " Never ! " But he stopped, 
..d was confused. 

'* The voice of Time," said the Phantom, " cries to maa 
Advance ! Time is for his advancement and improvement 
for his greater worth, his greater hajipincss, his better life : 
his progress onward to that goal within its knowledge and its 
view, and set there, in the period when Time and He began. 
Ages of darkness, wickedness, and violence have come and 
gone— millions uncountable have suffered, lived, and died— 
to point the way Before him. Who seeks to turn him back, 
or stay him on his course, arrests a mighty engine which will 
strike the meddler dead, and be the fiercer and the wilder 
ever, for its momentary check ! " ' 

" I never did so, to my knowledge. Sir," said Trotty. " It 
was quite by accident if I did. I wouldn't go to do it, I'm 
•sure." 

" Who puts into the mouth of Time, or of its servants," 
saui the Goblin of the Bell, "a cry of lamentation for days 
which have had their trial and their failure, and have left 
deep traces of it which the blind may see— a cry that only 
serves the Present Time, by showing men how much it needs 
their help when any ears can listen to regrets for such a Past 
-who does this, does a wrong. And you have done that 
wrong to us, the Chimes." 

Trotty's first excess of fear was gone. But he had felt 
tenderly and gratefully towards the Bells, as you have seen ; 
and when he heard himself arraigned as one who had 
offended them so weightily, his heart was touched with 
penitence and grief. 
^ ^ "If you knew," said Trotty, clasping his hands earnestly— 
i or perhaps you do know— if you know how often you have 
kt pt me company ; how often you have cheered me up when 
1 ve been low; how you were quite the plaything of my little 
da -hter Meg (almost the only one she ever had) when first 
nei :)ther died, and she and me were left alone— you won't 
bear malice for a hasty word ! " 
"Who hears in us, the Chimes, one note bespeaking dis- 



i 



THE CHIMES. 

regard, or stem regard, of any hope, or joy, or pain, or 
sorrow, of the many-sorrowed throng ; who hears us make 
response to any creed that gauges human passions arui 
affections, as it gauges the amount of miserable food m, 
which humanity may pine and wither, does us wrong. Thui 
wrong you have done us ! " said the Bell. 

" I have ! " said Trotty. " Oh, forgive me ! " 

"Who hears us echo the dull vermin of the earth- ilu- 
Putters Down of crushed and broken natures, formed to In 
raised up higher than such maggots of the time can crawl or 
can conceive," pursued the (loblin of the Bell — "who do- s 
so, does us wrong. And you have done us wrong ! " 

" Not meaning it," said Trotty. '* In my ignorance. Not 
meaning it ! " 

" Lastly, and most of all," pursued the Bell. " Who turns 
his back upon the fallen and disfigured of his kind ; abandons 
them as Vile ; and does not trice and track with pitying eyt s 
the unfenced precipice by whu > they fell from Good — grasp 
ing in their fall some tufts and shreds of that lost soil, aiui 
clinging to them still when bruised and dying in the gu!! 
below—does wi 'iw to Heaven and Man, to Time and ti 
Eternity. And y- . ' ive done that wrong ! " 

" Spare me," cried 1 rotty, falling on his knees ; " for Mercys 
sake ! " 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

" Listen ! " cried the other Shadows 

" Listen ! " said a clear and child-like voice, which Trotty 
thought he recognized as having heard before. 

The organ sounded faintly in the church below. Swelling 
by degrees, the melody ascended to the roof, and filled ihv 
choir and nave. Expanding more and more, it rose up, up : 
up, up ; higher, higher, higher up ; awakening agitated hearu 
within the burly piles of oak, the hollow bells, the iron-boun'; 
doors, the stairs of solid stone ; until the tower walls wer- 
insufficient to contain it, and it soared into the sky. 

No wonder that an old man's breast could not contair: : 
sound so vast and mighty. It broTce from that weak prison 
m a rush of tears, and Trotty put his hands before his face, 

" Listen ! " said the Shadow. 

•* Listen ' " said the other Shadows. 



231 



THE CHIMES. 

" Listen ! " said the child's voice 

A solemn strain of blended voices rose into the tower 

h was a very low and mournful strain— a Dime • and is hi. 
listened, I rottv heard his child among the sinuerV 

•' She 1.S Dead ! " exclaimed the old man. "Meg is dead ' 
Her Spirit calls to me. I hear it ! " ' 

lu^!i^ ^P'"i °^. y^"*" ''^''^ ^^'a'ls the dead, and mingles 
.1th the dead-dead hopes, dead fancies, dead ilg nine's 
0/ youth." returned the Bdl ; "but she is living. ^ earn 
rom her hfe a i:vmg truth. U-am from the creature d arcs" 

i ' rir^A ^°\^^ '^^ ^^^ ^'^ ^^"- See every bud and 
oxf plucked one by one from off the fairest stem, and know 
how bare anH wr^t/>K<>^ ... u. t- ., . .' ur '^'•^** 



Follow her ! To Des- 



how bare and wretched it may be. 
peration I " 

Each of the shadowy figures stretched its right arm forth, 
and po:nted downward. ^ ^ 

fi^'re^^^ri;^! V^? ?T?- '! y^"' ^^'"Panion/' said the 
ngure. (jO ! It stands behmd you ! " 

Trotty turned and saw-the child ? The child Will Fern 

but noTX' •' '''"' ' ''' ''"' "'°" '''"' '"'' "^^'^'^'' 
aniis^f'^""^ ^^' ""^^^^ to-night," said Trott>'-"in these 

oneand'Ilf"' ^^^^ ''^ '^"' ^''"'*'^'^'" ^^'^ ^he dark figures, 
The tower oper.ed at his feet. He looked down, and 
beheld his own form, lying at the bottom, on the outside 
crushed and motionless. ""ii>iue, 

" No more a living man ! » cried Trotty. " Dead ' " 
; Dead ! " said the figures all together. 

Gracious Heaven ! And the New Year " 

" Past," said the figures. 

" What ! "he cried, shuddering. « I missed my way and 
a^r^ago ?'" ' °"''''^' °^ '^'" '°^'' ^" '^" '^^^^' fell do;^ 
'' Nine years ago ! " replied the figures. 

hnV^^/^V" '^1 ^"f^"' '\^y '^^"^^ ^^^'' outstretched 
AnH 1 ""'^^'^ ^u ^f' ^^"'^^ ^^^ ^^^"' ^here the Bells were. 
And they rung, their time being rome a-rain And onre 

agam, vast multitudes of phaiUoL spn^, l^o ^^] 



___ V 



322 



THE CHIMES. 



once again, were incoherently engaged, as they had beer, 
before; once again, faded on the stopping of the (Jhimes, 
and dwindled into nothing. 

"What are these?" he asked his guide. "If I am not 
mad, what are these ? " 

" Spirits of the Hells. Their sound upon the air," return, d 
the child. " They take such shapes and occupations as tht 
hop's and thoughts of mortals, and the recollections they 
have stored up, give them." 

"And you," said Trotty wildly , "what are you?" 

" Hush, hush ! " returned the child. " I^ook here ! " 

In a poor, mean room, working at the same kind of 
embroidery which he had often, often seen before her, Mtg, 
his own dear daughter, was presented to his view. He made 
no effort to imprint his kisses on her face ; he did not strive 
to clasp her to his loving heart ; he knew that such endear- 
ments were for him no more. But he held his tremi)ling 
breath, and brushed away the blinding tears that he might 
look upon her — that he might only see her. 

Ah ! changed — changed. The light of the clear eye. 
how dimmed ! The bloom, how faded from the check '. 
Beautiful she was, as she had ever been ; but Hope, Hope. 
Hope, oh, where was the fresh Hope that had spoken to him 
like a voice I 

She looked up from her work at a companion. Following 
her eyes, the old man started back. 

In the woman grown he recognized her at a glance. In 
the long silken hair he saw the self-same curls ; around the 
lips the child's expression lingering still. See ! In the eyes. 
now turned inquiringly on Meg, there shone the very look 
that scanned those features when he brought her home ! 

Then what was this beside him ? 

Looking vith awe into its face, he saw a something reign- 
ing there — a lofty something, undefined and indistinct, which 
made it hardly more than a remembrance of that child -a- 
fonder figure might be— yet it was the same — the same. 
and wore the dress. 

Hark ! They were speaking ! 

" Meg," said Lilian, hesitating, " how often you raise your 
head from your work to look at me I " 



li^il.. 



TTTE rilTMES. 22j 

^^•j^Are my looks so altered that they frighten you?" asked 

"Xay, dear! But you smile at that yourself! Wnv not 
-.nile when you look at me, Meg ? " ^ 

;; I do so. I)o I not ? " she answered, smiling on her 
;'Now you do," said Lilian, "but not usuallf. When vou 

ooubtful that I hardly like to raise my eyes. There is 
i'ttle cause for sm.hng in this hard and toilsome life but vou 
were once so cheerful." ' ^^^ 

"Am I not now?" cried Meg, stjeaking in a tone nf 
strange alarm, and rising to en.brac:. her. " Do / mlk" our 
»eary l.fe more weary to you, Lilian ? ' " 

' Vou have been the only thing that made it life" said 
Lihan, fervently kissing her ; "sometimes the only thL ^ft 
made me care to live so, Meg. Such work, such wo k? So 
many hours so many days, so many long, long n Lhts of 
.^opt-less, cheerless, never-ending work -not to hfap un 
nches, not to hve grandly or gaily, not to live upon enou J 
owever coarse, but to earn bare 'bread ; to scraT togethe; 
St enough to toil upon, and want upon, and keep al ve in us 
the -, xiousn, s. of our hard fate ! Oh, Mef Meg ^ she 

^^rlrinTJn'"^.r'"^' 'T^"^^ ^^^^ ^'--'e spot 

^r toU S^p^"n~:sucuiv:s1"'^ ""^' ^°^'' «^ ^^""^' -^ 

hJr^i^^y'u ^'^ \^^^' soothing her, and putting back her 
b.r^from her wet face. "Why, Lilly! You'- So' pretty and 

''Oh Meg!" she interrupted, holding her at arm's-length 

To s °o 'al " Ijf -^^ '"^i^?""^^^y- '"^^^ worst o;!,:?he 
^orst of all ! Stnke me old, Meg ! Wither me and shrive! 

hJrhUd had ^^^1.'° fl°°.^ "^°" ^''' ^'^^- B"^ the Spirit of 
[fie Child had taken flight— was gone. ^ 

-^cither did he himself remain in the same olace • fnr q;, 
|oseph Bowley, Friend and Father of the Cor held a Li 
e tivity at Bowley Hall, in honour of the natal day of £dv 

a TwkS'^ ^^y «-^^y ^^<^ been born on N^e^ .W 
1% (which the local newspapers considered an especial 



li 



224 



THE CHIMES. 



pointing of the finger of Providence to number One, as 
Lady Bowley's destined figure in Creation), it was on a 
New Year's Day that this festivity tooic place. 

Bowley Hall was full of visitors. The red-faced gentleman 
was there, Mr. Filer was there, the great Alderman Cute wa^ 
there — (Alderman Cute had a sympathetic feeling with great 
people, and had considerably improved his acquaintance 
with Sir Joseph Bowley on the strength of his attentive 
letter ; indeed had become quite a friend of the family sim e 
then) — and many guests were there. Trotty's ghost was 
there, wandering about, poor phantom, drearily, and look- 
ing for its guide. 

There was to be a great dinner in the Great Hall, at which 
Sir Joseph Bowley, in his celebrated character of Friend and 
Father of the Poor, was to make his great speech. Certain 
plum puddings were to be eaten by his Friends and Children 
in another Hall first; and at a given signal, Friends and 
Children flocking in among their Friends anc Fathers, were 
to form a family assemblage, with not one manly eye therein 
unmoistened by emotion. 

But there was more tiian this to happen, even more than 
this. Sir Joseph Bowley, Baronet and Member of Parlia- 
ment, was to play a match at skittles — real skittles — with his 
tenants. 

"Which quite reminds one," said Alderman Cute, "of the 
days of old King Hal, stout King Hal, bluff King Hal. Ah. 
Fire character ! " 

*' Very," said Mr. Filer dryly. " For marrying women and 
murdering 'em. Considerably more than the average number 
of wives, by-the-bye." 

" You'll marry the beautiful ladies, and not murder 'em, 
eh?" said Alderman Cute to the heir of Bowley, aged twelve. 
" Sweet boy ! We shall have this little gentleman in Parlia- 
ment now," said the Alderman, holding him by the shouldc , 
and looking as reflective as he could, " before we know where 
we are. We shall hear of his successes at the poll ; hi> 
speeches in the house ; his overtures from Governments ; h.)s 
brilliant achievements of all kinds ; ah ! we shall make our 
little orations about him in the common council, I'll befero 
bound, before we have time to look about us I " |n t 



it 

I 

D( 

;h 
A 
af 
Ci 

]o 
se( 
.\( 
th£ 

mc 

0C( 

It 
the 



No- 



h as 
)n a 

:man 

ance 
itive 
iin'X' 
was 
ook- 

hich 

and 
rtain 
dren 
and 
(vcre 
;rein 



than 
irlia 
, his 

'the 
Ah. 

and 
iber 

'em, 
;lye. 

rlin- 

lerc 
hb 
hn 

OUT 

be 



THE CHIMES. 225 

>Z2t ^^u J^i^^'V'''^ o^ shoes and stockings ! » Trotty 
bought But his heart yearned towards the child, for the 
love of those same shoeless and stockingless boys, predcstit ed 

Richard?" -i can u .^ i.,.,i.4rd ! Where is 

Not likely to be there, if still . iiv- ! Hut Trotty's grief 
and sohtude confused him; and ^: ;tfi: w.-nt wander nJ 
among the gallant company, looking for hL .uide nnH 
saymg, "Where is Richard? ' Show me RTchai^d ' '' ' 

He was wandering thus, when he encountered Mr. Fish 
tne confidential Secretary, in great agitation. 

Bless my heart and soul!" cried Mr. Fish, "where's 
Alderman Cute ? Has anybody seen the Alderman ? " 

.K ^A,^^'^''''"'^''"- ^^ ^^^^^- ^^''^^ could ever help 
seeing the Alderman ? He was so considerate, so afiab e he 
oore so much m mind the natural desire of folks to see him 
hat If he had a fault, it was the being constantly On V.iw 
And wherever the great people wer?, there, to be sure' 
nra^cted by the kindred sympathy between g'eat souls, wS 

h^^TVi'^'Tu'^'i '^^' ^" ''^' •" '^^ ^'^'^^^ ^o^nd Sir 

Sw ^n^n* r^' ^^y '^"•■"' ^°""^ ^^"^' ^"^ took him 

secretly into a window near at hand. Trotty joined them 

Z d- ecdoT ''-''''' "^ '-'' '-' ^'^ ^^^P^ -- '^'^ in 
"My dear Alderman Cute," said Mr. Fish. "\ little 

'cu'red iT iv ' ""^^ ^^^^^^"^ circumstance h.s 

Si; n u I ^^'' "'°"'^'"' '■^^^'^^d '^^ intelligence. 

th^nk It will be best not to acquaint Sir Joseph with it till 

e day is over. You understand Sir Joseph, and will gh-e 

nre your opmion. The most frightful and dJpbrable evem " 

Fish! returned the Alderman. "Fish! My good 

cHovv^ what IS the matter? Nothing revolutionary. 1 hfpl^ 

No--no attempted interference with the magistrates ? " ^ 

Dcedles, the banker,- gasped the Secretary. " Deedles 
Irothers-who was to have been here to-day-high in oftS 
1 the Goldsmiths' Company » ^ ^ 



■■M 



226 



THE CHIMES. 



' J 



"It can't be? = 



Not stopped ! " exclaimed the Alderman 
"Shot himself." 
" Good God ! " 

" Put a double-barrelled pistol to his mouth, in his own 
countmg-house,'; said Mr. Fish, "and blew his brains out 
No motive. Princely circumstances ! " 

" Circumstances ! " exclaimed the Alderman. "A man of 
noble fortune. One of the most respectable of men. Suicide- 
Mr. Fish ! By his own hand ! " 

"This very morning," returned Mr. Fish. 
" Oh, the brain, the brain ! " exclaimed the pious Alder- 
man, hftmg up his hands. " Oh, the nerves, the nerves ; the 
mysteries of this machine called Man! Oh, the little 'that 
unhmges it— poor creatures that we are ! Perhaps a dinner 
Mr. Fish. Perhaps the conduct of his son, who, I have 
heard, ran very wild, and was in the habit of drawing bill. 
upon him without the least authority ! A most respectable 
man. One of the most respectable men I ever knew ' A 
lamentable instance, Mr. Fish. A public calamity ! I shall 
make a point of wearing the deepest mourning. A most 
respectable man ! But there is One above. We must sub- 
mit, Mr. Fish. We must submit ! " 

What, Alderman ! No word of Pu^nng Down ? Remem- 
ber, Justice, your high moral boast and pride. Come, Ald-r- 
man ! Balance those scales. Throw me into this, the eminv 
one No Dinner, and Nature's Founts in some poor woman 
dried by starving misery and rendered obdurate to claims 
for which her offspring /las authoritv in holy mother Eve 
Weigh me the two : you Daniel going to judgment, when 
your day shall come ! Weigh them,' in the eyes of suffering 
thousands, audience (not unmindful) of the grim farce you 
play ! Or supposing that you strayed from your five wits— its 
not so far to go but that it might be— and laid hands upon 
chat throat of yours, warning your fellows (if you have a 
fellow) how they croak their comfortable wickedness to ravine 
heads and stricken hearts. What then ? " 

The words rose up in Trotty's breast, as if they had been 
spoken by some other voice within hini. Alderman Cute- 
pledged himself to Mr. Fish that he would assist him in 
breaking the melancholy catastrophe to Sir Joseph, when the 



h 
ti 
\'i 
F, 
ar 
tu 
\: 
th 



so 
his 

he 



■irn^-A- 



dav w 



as 



THE CITTT»rES. 22^ 

spectable of men !" And add:d ',hat ^ hardl kn^'n'o"; 

The skittle-playing came off with immense success Sir 

rrrr ^;u^:^ sj;- : -"^--&3 

agam as fast as it could come. commg round 

At its proper time the Banquet was served ud Trnttv 

involumanly repaired to the Hall with the rest for h.M. 

"n r '"v^r ?,;^^ I' ^^"^^ stron^eM^l^X^h 
iad.es we"hanl^^^^^^^^^^ 
nd good-tempered. When the lower doors wer^opentd' 
nd the people flocked in, in their rustic dresses, the beam^ 

healJh MH^ K ^^'" '"""^ T^'-^^ ' > ^"d Lady Bowley s 

health had been proposed ; and oir Joseph Bou lev hadT 
turned thanks ; and had made his great speech showin. hJ 
various pieces of evidence that he 4 the^born FrLnd and 

and Chit? '° ^Z'^^ ?^ ^^^ g'^^" ^« ^ t°a«t, his Friends 

nd Children and the Dignity of Labour; when a slight dis 

turbance at the bottom of the hall attracted Toby' not ce 

t on 'k Tk' '''"^"''°."' "°^^^' ^"^ opposition, one man Cke 
through the rest, and stood forward by himself. ""^^ 

Not Richard No. But one whom he had thought of 

old, and grey, and bent ; but with a blaz^ of 4dT ^^n 
htSptd%orfh.'""^^' ''^'^ '^ ^"- WinV/ril-Z^oTas 
"What is thisl" exclaimed Sir Joseph, rising. "Who 



; 



ha I 



22* THE CHIMlrS 

gave tl^ man admittance? Th,s ,s a criminal from prison 

Mr. l<ish, Sir, a;/// you have the goodness " 

"A minute! "said Will Fern. "A minute! My La.h 
you was born on this day along with a New Year. Get . ■' 
a minute's leave to speak." 

She made some intercession for him, and Sir Joseph took 
his seat again, with native dignity. 

The ragged visitor— for he was miserably dressed— looked 
round upon the company, and made his homage to them 
with a humble bow. 

"Gentlefolks!" he said, "you've drunk the Labourer. 
Look at me I 

"Just come from jail," said Mr. Fish. 

"Just come from jail," said Will. "And neither for the 
hrst time, nor the second, nor the third, nor yet the fourth " 

Mr. Filer was heard to remark testily that four times wa^ 
over th6 average, and he ought to be ashamed of himself. 

"Gendefolks.!" repeated Will Fern, "look at me! You 
see I m at the worst. Beyond aU hurt or harm: beyond 
your help; for the time when your kind words or kind 
actions could have done me good "—he struck his hand upon 
his breast, and shook his head— "is gone, with the scent of 
last year's t)eans or clover on the air. Let me say a word for 
these, pointing to the labouring people in the hall; "and 
when you re met together, hear the real Truth spoke out h: 
once. 

^ "There's not a man here," said the host, "who would 
nave him for a spokesman." 

"Like enough. Sir Joseph. I believe it Not the less 
true, perhaps is what I say. Perhaps that's a proof on it 
Gentlefolks, I ve lived many a year in this place. You may 
see the cottage from the sunk fence over yonder. IVe seen 
tne ladies draw it in their books a hundred times. It looks 
well in a picter, I've heerd say; but there ain't weather in 
picters and maybe 'tis fitter for that than for a place to live 
in. Well! I lived there. How hard— how bitter hard I 
lived there, I won't say. Any day in the year, and evin 
day, you can judge for your own selves." 

He spoke as he had spoken on the night when Trotty 
found huD u) the street His voice was deeper and mo« 



^ 



THE CHIMES. ^^Q 

then. As I am now, there's nothing can be said for m 
done for me. I'm past it." ^'^ ""^ 

" I am glad this man has entered " obst rv^H ^^Jr t^ u 
lookmg round serenelv 'Mwi^ r\ t J- ^"^ Joseph, 

to be Ordained. He Ts' an Fxamr^f "'^^- "' ^' ^^i'''^'' 
hope and trust, and confirm yex^^^^ J 

lost upon my Friends here » ^ ^ ' ^^ '' "^'^^ ""^ ^^" 

:igainst him." ^ ^ alone— aU one— it goes 

To jail with him ! 1 comes feck here ? J "" * "'^^^"^ 

'■our woods, and breaks-who do Jt ? n pK *"!!""'"« '" 
•m. To fail wJfK k;„i >V dontj'— a umber branch or 

^i h^ -fl" ^--" - - -- -t' ^- 

R with him ! I eats a rotten apple or a turnip. To jaS 



•ison ! 
La<]v, 



lokfd 
them 

•urer. 



r the 
th." 
1 wai 

f. 

You 

r'ond 

kind 

ipon 

It of 

Ifor 

and, 

tfor 

3uld 



'I' 

i 



i 



230 THE CHIxMES. 

with him ! It's twenty mile away ; and coming back, I bees 
a trifle on the road. To jail with him ! At last the con- 
stable, tne keeper— anybody— finds me anywhere, a doin" 
anythmg. To jail with him, foi he's a vagrant and a iair 
bird known ; and jail's the only home he's got." 

The Alderman nodded sagaciously, as who should sav " \ 
very good home too ! " 

" Do I say this to serve my cause ! " cried Fern. " Who 
can give me back my liberty, who can give me back my good 
name, who can give me back my innocent niece? Not all 
the Lords and Ladies in wide England. But, gentlemen 
gentlemen, dealing with other men like me, begin at th-' 
right end. Give us, in mercy, better homes when we're 
a-Iying m our cradles ; give us better food when we're a-work- 
ing for our lives; give us kinder laws to bring us back when 
we re a-going wrong ; and don't set Jail, Jail, Jail afore us, 
everywhere we turn. There ain't a condescension you can 
show the Labourer then, that he won't take as ready and as 
grale.ui as a man can be; for he has a patient, peaceful 
willing heart. But you must put his rightful spirit in hin, 
first ; for whether he's a wreck and ruin such as me, or i. 
like one of them that stand here now, his spirit is divided 
from you at this time. Bring it back, gentlefolks, bring it 
back! Bring it back, afore the day comes when even his 
Bible changes in his altered mind, and the words seem to 
him to read as they have sometimes read in my own eyes- 
!^^ ."t^'^xt^" !^°" S'^^'^' ^ ^" Not go; where thou 

XT ^^t' \^? ^""^ ^''^^^' ^^y P^oP^e ^^e Not my people: 
Nor thy God my God ! '" ^ ^ ^ ' 

A sudden stir and agitation took place in the Hall. Trottv 
thought at first that several had risen to eject the man, and 
hence this change in its appearance. But another moment 
showed him that the room and all the company had vanished 
from his sight, and that his daughter was again before him 
seated at her work. But in a poorer, meaner garret than 
before, and wi*h no Lilian by her side. 

The frame at which she had worked was put away upon a sti^a 
and covered up. The chair in which she had sat was turned 
agamst the wall. A history was written in these little thini^s 
and m Meg's gnef-wom face. Oh ! who could faU to read it? 



THE cirnfRs. 



231 



Meg strained her eyes upon her work until it was too dark 
to see the threads ; and when the night closed in, she lighted 
her feeble candle and worked on. Still her old father was 
invisible about her ; looking down upon her ; loving her— 
how dearly loving her !-and talking to her in a tender voice 
about the old times and the Bells. Though he knew, poor 
Trotty— though he knew she could not hear him. 

A great part of the evening had worn away, when a knock 

threshold. A slouching, moody, drunken sloven ; wasted by 
intemperance and vice, and with his matted hair and un- 
shorn beard m wild disorder ; but with some traces on him, 
too, of having been a man of good proportion and good 
features m his youth. ^ 

He stopped until he had her leave to enter ; and she 
retiring a pace or two from the open door, silently and sor- 

Ri^hard "^°" ^''"" '^'°"^ ^^"^ ^'^ '^^'^- ^^^ ^^ 

" May I come in, Margaret ? " 

" Yes ! Come in. Come in." 

It was well that Trotty knew him before he spoke, for 
with any doubt remaining on his mind, the harsh discordant 
voice would have persuaded him that it was not Richard but 
some other man. ' 

There were but two chairs in the room. She gave him 
hers, and stood at some short distance from him, waiting to 
hear what he had to say. ^ 

He sat, however staring vacantly at the floor, with a lustre- 
less and stupid smile-a spectacle of such deep degradation, 
iLr^. n f ? hopelessness, of such a miserable downfall 
that she put her hands before her face and turned away, les 
he should see how much it moved her 

.nl7'^vl ?K-T''';^ ^^ ^^' "^'^''^ °^ ^^"'e such trifling 
sound, he lifted his head, and began to speak as if there had 
oeen no pause since he entered. 

" Still at work, Margaret ? You work late." 
I generally do." 

"And early?" 

*■ And early." 

"So she said. She said you never tired, or never owned 



II 

11 



^32 THE CHIMES, 

that you tired Not all the time you lived together No. 
even when you fainted, between work and fXg fiuU 
told you that the last time I came." ^' ^ 

mll^lf''^" ^^^ answered. "And I implored you to tell 

R,>h i ?v? ™°'"^' ^^ y°" "^^d^ me a solemn prom ^ 
Richard, that you never would " promise, 

and vaSnt^rta^re^"" " A !^', ''^"''^' "^^^ " ^"^^^"'"^ ^^^^^ 
wiu vacant stare. A solemn promise. To be sure \ 

solemn promise ! " Awakening, as it were after ad m^ in 

"'hZ cTr; r "^'Jf ' ^^'^^^ -^^ sudd:n'.^.imS,-- 

hasbtn\rmeaglV^^^^^^^^' VVhat am I .0 do P She 

th," 1^^?" ' " ^'"^i^ ^^S' ^^^P'"g her hands. « Oh. does she 
think of me so often ? Has she been again ? " 

Iwenty times again," said Richard. "Margaret .h. 

'Tn%Tand'^\r\'^t' "^^ '" ^^^ stree^^Tdlllrut 
my work C ha f .h / -. ^^r°' V^^" '^« ^^^^ ^^^^ ^'"^ ^t 
hlad her voir, ii ^^ ^'"^ often), and before I can turn my 

t.ll"!ir''%'^"K'^!f ^^«-, "™eit! When she comes again 

ell her, Richard, that I love her in my soul. That I new 

he down to sleep but I bless her, and pray for her Tha 

[noughts. That she is with me n ght and dav That if i 

But th°;rr°"' ^ r,"'"^ remember ^ with my last b ea h 
But that I cannot look upon it " L»reatn. 

getheVSw[thft^^^!i""^' ""? ^"^^^^"g '^' P"rse to- 
getner said with a kind of drowsy thoughtfulness,- 

speak, ive taken this gift back and left it at her dvior 1 

stood before me face to face, what could I do?" 

You saw her ! » exclaimed Meg. « You saw her ' Oh 

Lihan, my sweet girl ! Oh, Lilian, Lilian r' ' ^ ' 

i saw her,' he went on to say, not answering, but en- 



pe 
It 



Not 
But I 

to tell 
)mi.se, 

laugh 
;. A 
le, in 
an,— 

She 

s she 

she 
rusts 
m at 
1 my 
look 
?s ii 
idow 

the 

;ain, 

ever 

rhat 

mv 



THE CHIMES. 2,, 

Ito she ever srakofm,.?T 5'<«? . ''he look, Richard? 
>. .he .ablei:Cs iLlVo,?ptce""Xnd ,h "'f"" ^'^ 

^^zz l^h:Sd\i-i!?---tfe^,^ 

in reht!:r s he '4^;;t "^f^^^^^^^^^^^ 

in some half legiMe charapl-^h k v ''"''^" °" ""= ground 
decipher and ci;^ec.-h: wemol, " "^ *"' °'™'^'"" 'o 
"•Richard, I have fallen verv Inw • a«^ . 

or a moment. Tdid ThJ4^'''''l' '"r'-™P""g himself 
■Oh, Richard, if you etr did ,7 v™ hL '^'^ "°' "'"'^- 
• hat is gone and lost Ske i? t r hi ^ ™ any memory for 
Tell he? how IK ' r ! ^ '^^ °"<^« ■""■■<-■■ Once more ! 

h^d :;o„° Ur^lfJuldefu^'l; ''^" "T ''°" I '"d ™y 

iain anS wars^'hSle .^^^f R LharT ^JSf h^lh' ,'"' 
looked into mv f-iro =nrf you, Kicnard. Tell her that you 

"raise all Kon7allSn. » T' ^s ^ ,"">' "'"'<^'' ^'^'^ "^'^d 'o 
cheek, thafshe wouTw;e;"fo'sT "t^H h ''°°^' "\"^ '^°"°" 
■ake it back, and she S no ?efu ^lafn ""%TJ"ll ""^ 
have the heart ! '" 'ciube again. She will not 

"oS^ai^'anTrSr"' ''"^''"^ *^ '^" ""*' ■""" •>« 
"You won't take it, Margaret?" 

.aye'her *"" ''"'^ ""<' '"°*'°"«i » «""««ty to him to 

"Good night, Margaret." 

"Goodnight." 

He turned to look upon her strnrt K« k^. 

quick and rapid action, and for the moment some 



i 



i 



'34 THE CHIME& 

flash of his old bearing kindled in his form. In the next he 
went as he had come. Nor did this glimmer of a quenched 
fire seem to light him to a quicker sense of his debasement 

In any mood, m any grief, in any torture of the mind <.r 
body, Megs work must be done. She sat down to her task 
and phed it. Night, midnight— still she worked. 

She had a meagre fire— the night being very cold— and 
rose at intervals to mend it. The Chimes rang half-past tweh c 
while she was thus engaged, and when they ceased she heard 
a gentle knocking at the door. Before she could so mut h 
as xvonder who was there at that unusual hour, it opened 

O Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at this! 
O Youth and Beauty, blest and blessing all within your 
reach, and working out the ends of your Beneficent Creator 
look at this ! ' 

"LilianT''^ '^^ entering figure— screamed its name— cried 

her dre?s ^'^'^^' ^"'^ ^^" "^" '^ ^^^^ ^^^'^ ^^^' clinging to 
" Up, dear ! up, Lilian r v own dearest ! " 
"Never more, Meg! never more! Here, here! close to 

fece!" ^^ '° ^°"' ^"^^^'"^ ^°'"' ^^^"^ ^^^^^ "P*'" "^y 

"Sweet Lilian ! darling Lilian ! Child of my heart— no 

b^re^t »» "^^^ ^ "'^'^ tender— lay your head upon my 

"Never more, Meg! never more! When I first looked 
mto your face, you knelt before me. On my knees before 
you, let me die. Let it be here ! " 

"You have come back, my Treasure ! We will live to- 
gether, work together, hope together, die together ! " 

" Ah ! Kiss my lips, Meg ; fold your arms about me ; 
press me to your bosom ; look kindly on me ; but don't raise 
me. Let it be here. Let me see the last of your dear face 
upon my knees ! " 

O Youth and Beauty, happy as ye should be, look at this ' 
U Youth and Beauty, working out the ends of your Bene- 
ficent Creator, look at this ! 

" Forgive me, Meg ! So dear, so dear ! Forgive me ! I 
know you do— I see yon do ; but say so, Mep ! " 



I THE ClflMFS. 23 r 

She said so, with her lips on Lilian's cheek, and with her 

arms twined round— she knew it now— a broken heart I 
" His blessing on you, dearest love. Kiss me once more ! 

He suffered her to sit beside His feet, and dry them with her 

iiair. O Meg, what Mercy and Compiission ! " 
As she died, the Spirit of the child returning, innocent and 

radiant, touched the old man with its hand, and beckoned 

nim away. 



FOURTH QUARTER. 
Some new remembrance of the ghostly figures in the Bells • 
scmie faint impression ot the ringing of the Chimes ; some 
giddy consciousness of having seen the swarm of phantoms 
reproduced and reproduced until the recollection of them 
lost Itself in the confusion of their numbers ; some hurried 
knowledge— how conveyed to him he knew not— that more 
years had passed ; and Trotty, with the Spirit of the child 
attendmg him, stood looking on at mortal company. 

Fat company, rosy-cheeked company, comfortable com- 
pany. They were but two, but they were red enough for ten 
rhey sat before a bright fire, with a small low table between 
them; and unless the fragrance of hot tea and muflfins 
lingered longer in that room than in most others, the table 
had seen sem'. -y lately. But all the cups and saucers 
bemg clean and m their proper places in the comer cup- 
board, and the brass toasting-fork hanging in its usual nook, 
and spr^^ding its four idle fingers out as if it wanted to be 
measured for a glove, there remained no other visible tokens 
of the meal just finished than such as purred and washed 
th-ir whiskers in the person of the basking cat, and glistened 
m the gracious, not to say the greasy, faces of her patrons. 

This cozy couple (married, evidently) had made a fair 
division of the fire between them, and sat looking at the 
glowing spark;* that dropped into the ^rate— now nodding oft 
into a doze, now waking up again when some hot fragment 
larger than the rest came rattling down as if the fire were 
coming with it 

It was in no danger of sudden extinction, however ; for it 
gleamed not only in the litUe room, and on the panes of 



\ •3« THE CHFMES. 

jj window-glaM in the door, and on thi» r.irto;« k«if j 

acro« them, but in ehe 1 ,Ue ,h^ £yo™d ?v «?! t"^ 
qu..e crammed and choked with the abunSancc o s setT 

I a perfectly voracious little shop, with a nww af^.^,, 

J^"&^' 'ilfltS ''"^^''"'''' .^'^^' ™"er:fi,r;. 
soap, picjues, matches, bacon, table-beer n,KTfr.,« . 

meats, boy," kites, birSeod, co?d hanTS SSL\e";;i; 

Mones, salt, vmegar, Uacking, red hearings, .stSery ? 

nrt Af ?h: ^'^'"=-^" J '-everything was f.sh that ctme to tl. 
rtfn., u'^^'*'' '""*= '•'"P- ""d "" 'h^'se articles were 

^« it would ZZ^^"^ ^''""^^ °' ^"y merchandise w,: 
tnete it would be difficult to say, but ball, of narlihr, , 

rop« of onions, pounds of candles, labb^iSef, :^ i 
f^?'^hne^riouroS? ""V" ^^''.'"S- '■^-''--di™^ 

r'r n -^^^ oTttTnS's riVoi 

door, which informed the public that the keerx^r of this^t 
shop^ w. a hcensed dealer in tea, co.ee, tkcfo.^';:,;;^ 

smoky lamps which burned Lt dimly in hrsLnr.,/'" 
though its plethora sat heavy on S L^- tj^'^^^ 
then at one of the two faceYhy the pa louffirr^^^^ 
small difficulty m recognizing in the stout old adv M ^ 
Chickenstalker-always inclined to corpulency even he 
days when he had known her as established i^ the eene 

^JJ^V ^ u- . companion were less easy to him The 
great broad chm, with creases in it large enough o hide a 
iTru' ')^ ^^,°"i^hed eyes, that sefmed to expo^uTat 

yilnSr^f?h/"r?f"^ ^P^^ ^"^ deeper?nto h 
yiejoing tat of the soft face; the nose afflicted with thaf Hi. 

^rsj^^'p-.^se.^l 



at 
Al 
•-Ir 



ele 



drawn 
shop. 
itO( k , 

:coni- 

iWf, t 

sarth- 

Ian!. 

0( ks 

re in 

WlTC 

read. 
and 
inary 
nells 
)uter 
littlf 
)pcr, 

thf 
two 
f, as 
:ing, 
had 
ifrs. 
the 
eral 



THE CHIMES. 237 

general line, and in the crooked and eccentric line of IHe 
ne recognued the former ,x,rter of Sir Jo.seph BowUy- an 

^'"'^^ •'fJxr"'"V^'^° '^^^ connected hinLlf in 'Irotty" 
nmd wah Mrs. Ch.ckenstalker )cars ago, by g.vinJ hfn 

■ "n's'To tl.at Hr""T T^^'^^ '^' ^^^^ confeL^d U^s oblT 

hJnuc?he'haIi"!' '"'T' '" "•^^""«^' "'^^' ^»^'^' ^'^^ the 
nances he lud seen; but assoeiatum i.s very .stronu s„me 

t.|nes, and he looked involuntarily behind the jurlour Xr 

^v ere the acx-ounts of credit customers were uiually kJ,^ ,' 

\ I here was no record of his name. Some nlme 

S of'Sd fJ'^^' rt T""^" ^" ^•"^' -^ ir^finitelyl" 
.ban of old ; from which lie argued that the porter was an 
advocate of ready-money tran.sactions, and on coming int^ 

lltfauUerr' "^^""^ ^'^'"^ ^'^^^ ""'''' ^'^^ Chickens^ kir 

So desolate was Trotty, and so mournful for the youth and 
promise of h.s bhghted child, that it was a sorrow to hni 
even to have no place in Mrs. Chickenstalker's "dger 

W hat sort of a night is it, Anne?" inquired the former 
porter of Sir Josc^ph liowley. stretching oui his legs S re 
ould r\nh ^"^^'"8.^,"^"-^ of them as his short arm! 
could reach, with an air that added, " Here I am if it's bad 
and I don't want to go out if it's goid." ' 

'Blowing and sleeting hard," returned his wife "and 
threatening .snow. Dark. And very cold." ' 

Im glad to think we had muffins," said the former 

'Tt-r'a^sort' T'^'irt ^^^ '^' ''' ^'-^ ----- -t - " 

Its a sort of night that's meant for muffins. Likewise 
crumpets. Also Sally Lunns." i^JKewise 

^Jc^L^TrTJr"'^" mentioned each successive kind of eat- 
Ifer^-hlh \ M "ru^-^^'"'""^'"^ "P ^'« g««d actions. 
•h m l\u l^ '"^^"^^ ^'' ^^' ^^^ ^' before, and jerking 

a tT tLT ^' - '° ^? '^' ^'^ "P«" *h^ vet unroasted 
..arts^ laughed as it somebody had tickled him.' 



If 



I 






ii 



238 



THE CHIMES. 






With that he chuckled until he was black in the face, and 
had so much ado to become any other colour, that his fat 
legs took the strangest excursions into the air. Nor were 
they reduced to anything like decorum until Mrs. Tugby 
had thumped him violently on the back, and shaken him us 
if he were a great bottle. 

"Good gracious! goodness lord-a-mercy bless and save 
the man ! " cried Mrs. Tugby, in great terror. '• What's he 
doing?" 

Mr. Tugby wiped his eyes, and faintly repeated that he 
found himself a little elewated. 

"Then don't be so again, that's a dear good soul," said 
Mrs. Tugby, "if you don't want to frighten me to death with 
your struggling and fighting ! " 

Mr. Tugby said he wouldn't, but his whole existence was 
a fight— in which, if any judgment migb: be founded on the 
constantly-increasing shortness of his breutii, and the deepen- 
ing purple of his face, he was always getting the worst of it. 

" So it's blowing, and sleeting, and threatening snow, and 
IS dark and very cold, is it, my dear?" said Mr. Tugby, 
looking at the fire, and reverting to the cream and marrow of 
his temporary elevation. 

"Hard weather indeed," returned his wife, shaking her 
head. 

-'Ay, ay! Years," said Mr. Tugby, "are like Christians 
in that respect— some of 'em die hard ; some of 'em die easy. 
This one hasii't many days to run, and is making a fight 
for it. I like him all the better. There's a customer, my 
love ! " 

Attentive to the rattling door, Mrs. Tugby had akeady 
risen. 

"Now, then," said that lady, passing out into the little 
shop, " what's wanted ? Oh ! I beg your pardon, sir, I'm 
sure. I didn't think it was you." 

She made this apology to a gentleman in black, who, with 
his wristbands tucked up, and his hat cocked loungingly on 
one side, and his hands in his pockets, sat down astride on 
the table-beer barrel, and nodded in return. 

" This is a bad business upstairs, Mrs. Tugby," said the 
gentleman. " The man can't live." 



THE CHIMES. 230 

JIT^^A^^'^-^'": **■■• fugby," said the gentleman "is 
»n»,ng downstaits fast, and will be below theVrm' ve^ 

hai^^>? ^^ 'l!™' ,f ■^"8by and his wife, he sounded the 
f^d ri'"'^''"'"''''^ '°' ">« depth of beer, and hav ,« 
"TK^ I T^ ^ 'T^ "P"" ">« ™pty part. * 

havil «^"*-""^' ^''■- ''■"8by." said thi gentleman-Tugbv 
lm,ng_ stood ,n stlent comtemation fo? some time-"i^ 

yol' wfl^tel^^'gon;-'"^ '° ''' "*^^- ""^ ■"-' «°- 

shZj°Si; 'a^°"iToS S"t?i^;^^f:s5?,™"f 

"It's the only subject," said Tugby, bringing the butter 

S' ^^'^ k"P°" "'^ counter with \^crash bylekhinghU 
fist on ,^ .'that we've ever had a word .pon-she 2id me 
and look what it comes to ! He's g. ^ to dfe ^l ato 
houser"^ '" "^'^ "P°" ""^ P'«™«' Going to SLI'nour 

"And where should he have died, Tugby?" cried hi- wifc 
rnade"foVl'^"''°"^^" '^ ^^^"^"^^- " '^'^^^ arT^orkho^ies 

"Not for that," said Mrs. Tugby, with great enerffv-«nnf 
for that. Neither did I marry you for thft Do?fthinkTt 
Tugby. I won't have it. I won't allow it. I'd be semrated 
first, and never see your face again. When my widowTname 
tood over that door, as it did for many, man^ yelrs-this 
house bemg known as Mrs. Chickenstalker's far a^nd wide Ind 

whin J:""^"^ ''V' '° ''' ^°"^^' ^^^di^ ^"d "s good rerSrt^ 
when my widow's name stood over that door, Tugbv Tknew 
him as a handsome, steady, manly, independent youth T 

eveTiw 1 ?' ^T'"?-»?°king, s^etesti^mpLd^r eye 
ever saw; I knew her father (poor old creetur h^ M) fZ 
mm the steeple walking in his^fand kS LSfffor 

^ L rK^^f' ^r^ff ^°'^'"g' child?st-hearted mai tha ever 
drew the breath of life. And when I turn them out of hoi^ 



240 



THE CHIMES 



N I 



and home, may angels turn me out of Heaven. As thev 
would — ^and serve me right ! " 

Her old face, which had been a plump and dimpled one 
before the changes which had come to pass, seemed to shine 
out of her as she said these words ; and when she dried her 
eyes, and shook her head and her handkerchief at Tueby 
with an expression of firmness which it was quite clear wi 
not ^ to be easily resisted, Trotty said, "Bless her! bless 

Then he listened, with a panting heart, for what should 
follow— knowing nothing yet, but that they spoke of Meg. 
*u u^^^ had been a little elevated in the parlour, he more 
than balanced that account by being not a little depressed in 
the shop, where he now stood staring at his wife, without 
attempting a reply, secretly conveying, however— either in 
a nt ot abstraction, or as a precautionary measure— all the 
money from the till into his own pockets, as he looked at 
ner. 

The gentleman upon the table-beer cask, who appeared 
to be some authorized medical attendant upon the poor, was 
far too well accustomed, evidently, to little differences of 
opinion between man and wife to interpose any remark in 
this instance. He sat softly whistling, and turning little 
drops of beer out of the tap upon the ground, until there 
was a perfect calm, when he raised his head, and said to 
Mrs. Tugby, late Chickenstalker,— 

"There's something interesting about the woman even 

now. How did she come to marry him ? " 

^^." Why that," said Mrs. Tugby, taking a .seat near him, 

is not the least cruel part of her story. Sir. You see they 

kept company, she and Richard, many years ago. ^Vhen 

they were a young and beautiful couple, everything was 

settled, and they were to have been married on a New Year's 

Day. But somehow Richard got it into his head, through 

Tufu^^ gentlemen told him, that he might do better, and 

that he d soon repent it, and that she wasn't good enough 

tor him, and that a young man of spirit had no business to 

be married. And the gentlemen frightened her, and made 

her melancholy, and timid of his deserting her, and of he 

children coming to the gallows, and of its being wicked to 



THE CHIMES. 2^, 

brieve mo?r^n,irf ^'^^'^^ v™''' ""'I "«™^ *<• « "on-an 
ta wem"? '^"'""^ "^" '""^ '"' ^'-hard when he 

^rri .H?'''"^' '^^^T^' ^^ companions-all the fine re^ 

yeirs 'and^'v'ir? h^ "' ^'' '"l " "^°"^^"^- ™s went on for 
years ana years, he sinking lower and lower • shp PnH.,r.v,X 

poor thing, miseries enough to wear her Tffe away At "f^ 

would A "?' -^""l '^°°'"' ^"'•^ ^^"' "P«" him go wheTe he 
c^L for^?^J"K^ ^T Jlf^^ ^^ P^^^^ ^"^ d^^ to door and 
oft^n Ld off/n ^""^'"t^^h J!"'^ t« one gentleman who had 

Xr^ar ett>^f '° "^ -■ ^'"^^^ "at 

.« w^n" i^^^}^^ gentleman. " Well ?" 
Well. Sir, he went to her, and kneeled to her ; said it 



i 






Mi 
I 



^42 THE CHIMES. 

sTve'hiln/?'^ '* ^''^'' ^^"^ ^" ^ ^^ '"^^^^ ^ P^^y^^ to ^^' to 

•'And she?— Don't distress yourself, Mrs. Tugby." 
I wu . u"^^""^ ^° ""^ that night to ask me about living here 
What he was once to me,' she said, ' is buried in a grave 
side by side with what I was to him. But I have though 
of this and I will make the trial. In the hope of savin. 

hZ'Ju' ^^ "''u °^ u^^ light-hearted giri (yoV remember 
her) who was to have been married on a New Year's Dav • 
and for the love of her Richard.' And she said he had come 
to her from Lilian, and Lilian had trusted to him, and she 
never could forget that. So they were married ; and when 
they came home here, and I saw them, I hoped that such 
propheci^ as parted them when they were young may not 
often fulfil themselves as they did in this case, or I wouldn't 
be the makers of them for a Mine of Gold " 

ob^lj^i/^— '^^" ^°^ °^ *^^ "^^^ ^""^ stretched himself, 
ried?"'"^'^^^ ^^ "^^ ^'"' ^" ^ '"^^ ^ they were mar- 

h J LIT'' 'I;'"''- ^^ T' "^^^ that," said Mrs. Tugby, shaking 
her head and wiping her eyes. « He went on better for a 
short time. But his habits were too old and strong to be got 

"k °^i.H,'°°" ^^" ^""^ ^ "ttle, and was falling fast back 
when his ilmess came so strong upon him. I think he has 
always felt for her. I am sure he has. I've seen him, in his 
crying fits and tremblings, try to kiss her hand; and I have 
hi^hi''*"' -^ ' ^? '^^^l ^"^ ^y ^t was her nineteenth 
n,nn.h ^' J^^'^ ^t ^^ ^f" ^^'"8 "°^ thcse wecks and 
r^o K ^a"^^^? ^'""/u "^ ^^' ^^^y «^« h^s "ot been able 
h.« ln«.^V ''°'? Y^"^ ^LT ^^^ ^^^^ to be regular, she 

1 i iV^i^^f '^ '^f, ^°"^^ ^^^^ ^°"^ it. How Fhey have 
lived I hardly know ! " / «vc 

"/know," muttered Mr. Tugby, looking at the till, and 
round the shop, and at his wife, and rolling his head with 
immense intelligence. " Like Fighting Cocks ' " 

He was interrupted by a cry— a sound of lamentation- 
from the upper story of the house. The gentleman moved 
hurriedly to the door. 

"My friend," he said, looking back, "you needn't discuss 



■ I ^ 



THE CHIMES. 24, 

tt^ubiri't.it "'"°^'='' " "°'- "« •- »p«-> you 

the bed, if i°deserJed' Ki,!''^"^^"' "°™"' ""^P^S f/ 

and ha^in. d^r'htte^dTpo'n'tn f^Sn^ Who" ""'"!; 
how spare, how sirklv ar,^ k ' ^"^^"t- VVho can te 

tell how d^ai? ^^* ^^ ^°^' P°°^ ^" infant? Who can 

"OhyijS^'SXnked' "sH' '°^^^"P ^'^ ^°^d-<^ hands. 
tL .1 ^nanked ! She loves her child .' " 

1 he gentleman, not otherwise hard-hearted nr ir^Aifr . 

must fight up.^ WhatVuW havrbeSSe of° mel?- /l°." 
g.ven way when I «as porter, and we h"d as ZJ. ^^ 

A™^ T" "'yj^'^mi' of mind, and didnWn jtM' 

He^Sed'To'lSs^St 'ii^ldrS s?'"f' "^^^ her," 
.ssir^^through .e ^'^^^^^^r^^l^ 

int^L^I^Iorr t?- oThtrold^^r. ^S^,:??^^ "^ 
note o, her old p.ea.a,u voice. Sett^'r^rhe cSld- 



«44 



THE CHIMES. 



! I 

■ft 
i 

u - 



> so wan, so prematurely old, so dreadful in its gravity, so 

If plaintive in its feeble, mournful, miserable wail. He almost 

\^ worshipped it. He clung to it as her only safeguard — as the 

. last unbroken link that bound her to endurance. He set his 

\l father's hope and trust on the frail baby ; watched her ever)- 

L look upon it as she heid it in her arms; and cried a thousand 

,J times, "She loves it ! God be thanked, she loves it ! " 

^J He saw the woman tend her in the night ; return to her 

j| when her grudging husband was asleep, and all was still : 

\ encourage her, shed tears with her, set nourishment before 

her. He saw the day come, and the night again ; the day, 
the night ; the time go by ; the house of death relieved of 
death ; the room left to herself and to the child. He heard 
it moan and cry ; he saw it harass her, and tire her out, and 
when she slumbered in exhaustion, drag her back to con- 
sciousness, and hold her with its little hands upon the rack. 
But she was constant to it, gentle with it, patioit with it. 
Patient was its loving mother in her inmost heart and soul, 
and had its Being knitted up with hers as when she carried 
it unborn. 

All this time she was in want — languishing away in dire 
and pinir , want. With the baby in her arms, she wandered 
here and there in quest of occupation ; and with its thin face 
lying in her lap and looking up in hers, did any work for 
any wretched sum — a day and night of labour for as many 
farthings as there were figures on the dial. If she had 
quarrelled with it ; if she had neglected it ; if she had looked 
upon it with a moment's hate ; if, in the frenzy of an instant, 
she had struck it ! No. His comfort was, she loved it always. 
She told no one of her extremity, and wandered abroad in 
the day lest she should be questioned by her only friend . 
for any help she received from her hands occasioned fresh 
disputes between the good woman and her husband, and it 
was new bitterness to be the daily cause of strife and discord 
where she owed so much. 

She loved it still. She loved it more and more. Bui. a 
change fell on the aspect of her love — one night. 

She was singing faintly to it in its sleep, and walking to 
and fro to hush it, when her door was softly opened, and a 
man lodced in. 



245 



THE CHIMES. 

uF^V^^ !f ' ^"^^'" he said. 
" William Fern ! " 

" For the last time." 

^Marfiare? mv' t,";!"^"""^ ' ""^ '^^' '" ^^ispe,^. 

J What have you done?" she asked, regarding him with 
He looked at her, but gave no answer. 

"It's long ago, Margaret, now, but that night is as fr^«K 
m my memory as ever 'twa-s Wa i.ffi «.u ^u , "^^^ 

me hold your child." " ' ^^ 

He put his hat upon the floor, and took it AnH h^ 

trembled as he took it, from head ti foot. ""^ ^^ 

Is It a girl ? " 
"Yes." 
He put his hand before its little face. 

«.urag: toTooraHt''"liTr K^'"^^^^^' ^^^" ' -"^ the 
h«r T.' 1 V ^^ h^^ ^e a moment. I won't hurt 

her It s long ago, but-what's her name ? » ""^ 

Margaret," she answered quickly. 
"I m glad of that," he said. « I'm glad of that - 

face But covered it again immediately. ^ 

,.j. Marpret!" he said, and gave her'back the child, "ifs 

"Lilian's!" 

died'and'fe fttrT"* ^ '" "^ '^^ "''^" Lilian's mother 
^« When Lilian's mother died and left her!" she repeated 

^Sr M^, r^' ^^ <^° y°- fi^ y- «y« upon 



1 

li 



t't 



i 5 



246 THE CHIMES. 

She sunk down in a chair, and pressed the infant to her 
breast, and wept over it. Sometimes she released it from 
her embrace to look anxiously in its face, then strained it to 
her bosom again. At those times, when she gazed upon it, 
then it was that something fierce and terrible began to mingle 
with her love. Then it was that her old father quailed. 

" Follow her 1 " was sounded through the house. " Learn 
it, from the creature dearest to your heart ! " 

" Margaret," said Fern, bending over her, and kissing her 
upon the brow, " I thank you for the last time. Good night. 
Good-bye. Put your han(' in mine, and tell me you'll forget 
me from this hour, and try to think the end of me was here." 

" What have you done ? " she asked again. 

" There'll be a Fire to-night," he said, removing from her. 
"There'll be Fires this winter-time to light the dark nighi.s, 
East, West, North, and South. When you see the distant 
sky red, they'll be blazing. When you see the distant sky 
red, think of me no more ; or if you do, remember what 
a Hell was lighted up inside of me, and think you see its 
Flames reflected in the clouds. Good night. Good-bye ! " 

She called to him, but he was gone. She sat down stupefied 
until her infant roused her to a sense of hunger, cold, and 
darkness. She paced the room with it the livelong night, 
hushing it and soothing it She said at intervals, "Like 
Lilian, when her mother died and left her ! " Why was her 
step so quick, her eye so wild, her love so fierce and terrible, 
whenever she repeated those words ? 

" But it is Love," said Trotty. " It is Love. She'll never 
cease to love it. My poor Meg ! " 

She dressed the child next morning with unusual care— 
ah, vain expenditure of care upon such squalid robes ! — ^and 
once more tried to find some means of life. It was the last 
day of the Old Year. She tried till night, and never broke 
her fast She tried in vain. 

She mingled with an abject crowd, who tarried in the 
snow until it pleased some officer appointed to dispense the 
public charity (the lawful charity; not that once preached 
upon a Mount) to call them in, and question them, and say 
to this one, " Go to such a place," to that one, " Come next 
week ; " to make a football of another wretch, and pass him 



THE CHIMES. 247 

here and there, from hand to hand, from house to house 
until he weaned and lay down to die; or started up and 
robbed, and so became a higher sort of criminal, whose 
claims allowed of no delay. Here, too, she failed. She 
loved her child, and wished to have it lying on her breast. 
And that was quite enough. 

It was night-a bleak, dark, cutting night-when, pressing 
the child close to her for warmth, she arrived outside the 
house she called her home. She was so faint and giddy that 
she saw no one standing in the doorway until she was c'ose 
upon it, and about to enter. Then she recognized the 
master of the house, who had so disposed himself— with 
u^[^?» I' '''^^. "°* difficult— as to fill up the whole entry. 

Oh ! he said softly. « You have come back ? " 
She looked at the child, and shook her head. 
"Don't you think you have lived here long enough without 
paying any rent ? Don't you think that, without any money, 
you ve been a pretty constant customer at this shop now?" 
said Mr. Tugby. ^ 

She repeated the same mute appeal. 
^^ '• Suppose you try and deal somewhere else," he said. 

And suppose you provide yourself with another lodging. 
Come ! don t you think you could manage it ? '* 

She said, in a low voice, that it was very late To- 
morrow. ^ 

"Now I see what you want," said Tugby, "and what yoj 
mean. You know there are two parties in this house abort 
you, and you delight in setting 'em by the ears. I doa't 
want any quarrels— I'm speaking softly to avoid a quarrel- 
but if you don't go away, I'll speak out loud, and you shall 
cause words high enough to please you. But you shan't 
come m. That I am determined." 

She put her hair back with her hand, and looked in a 
'"^T.iu."'?""^'" ^^ ^^^ sky and the dark lowering distance. 

This IS the last night of an Old Year, and I won't carry 
lU-blood and quarrelHngs and disturbances into a New One 
to please you nor anybody else," said Tugby, who was quite 
a retail Friend and Father. " I wonder you ain't ashamed of 
yourself, to carry such practices into a New Year. If you 
haven t any business in the world, but to be always giving 



*48 THE CH'MES. 

way, and always making disturbances between man and wife, 
you d be better out of it. Go along with you." 

" Follow her ! To desperation ! " 

Again the old man heard the voices. Looking up, he saw 
toe figures hovermg in the air, and pointing where she went 
down the dark street. ' 

"She loves it 1 » he exclaimed, in agonized entreaty for her 
" Chimes ! she loves it still ! " 

"Follow her 1" The shadows swept upon the track she 
nad taken, like a cloud. 

He joined in the pursuit ; he kept close to her; he looked 
into her face. He saw the same fierce and terrible expres 
sion mingling with her love, and kindling in her eyes. He 
heard her say, " Like Lilian ! To be changed Uke Lilian i " 
and her ^peed redoubled. 

Oh, for something to awaken her! For any sight or 
sound, or scent, to call up tender recollections in a brain 
on fire I I-or any gentle image of the Past, to rise before 
ner I 

"I was her father ! I was her father ! " cried the old man, 
stretching out his hands to the dark shadows flying on above 

Have mercy on her, and on me! '/here does she go? 
rum her back ! I was her father ! " 

But they only pointed to her, as she hurried on ; and said 
j^^° ^f Peration ! Learn it from the creature dearest to you 

A hundred voices echoed it. The air was made of breath 
expended in those words. He seemed to take thenj in, nt 
every gasp he drew. They were everywhere, and not to be 
escaped. And still she hurried on ; the same light in her 
eyes, the same words in her mouth : ' Like Lilian 1 To be 
changed like Lilian ! " 

All at once she stopped. 

"Now, turn her back!" exclaimed the old man, tearing 
his white hair. "My child! Meg! Turn her back ! Greal 
Father, turn her back ! " 

«ri? u^^ ?^^ ^^^"*y ^^^^^' she wrapped the baby warm. 
With her fevered hands she smoothed its limbs, composed 
Its fece, arranged its mean attire. In her wasted arms she 
toided It, as though she never would resign it more. And 



THE CHIMES, 24O 

withjjer dry lips, kissed it in a final pang and last long agony 

Putting its tiny hand up to her neck, and holding it there 
Hithm her dress, next to her distracted heart, she set S 
sleeping face against her-closely. steadily aga^sfher-aid 
sped onward to the river. ^ ^ ner—and 

.Ju '^^'°"i"« ^Z^^""' s'^ift and dim, where Winter Nieht 
sat broodmg hke the last dark thoughts of many who had 
sought a refuge there before her. Where scattered liah.» 

rr bit' th^" tr'^r^'^ and'?:ii,r:rr:^j' h 

were burn ng there, to show the way to Death Where nn 
abode of hvrng people cast its shadow, on the deea im^n^ 
trable, melancholy shade. ^ impene- 

To the River ! to that portal of Eternity, her desnemte 

to the sea. He tried to touch her as she passed him iroinS 
down to Its dark level ; but the wUd distempered form °hf 
fierce and terrible love, the desperation th^ hadTft aU 
human check or hold behind, swepVby him like rwfnd 

hefor^ fT^.^^!- , ^^" P^"^*''^ ^ "^°"^ent on thJ brink 
before the dreadful plunge. He fell down on his knees and 

rboVe'tht''"^""' ^'^ '^""^ '" ^^^ --'s now"ho"'ering 
" I have learnt it ! » cried the old man. " From the crea- 

ture dearest to my heart ! Oh, save her, save her?" 
He could wind his fingers in her dress; could hold it I 

.Vs the words (^scaped his lips, he felt his sense of ouch 

return, and kwew that he detained her. 
The figures looked down steadfastly upon him. 
I have learnt it ! " cried the old man. - Oh, have mercv 

Tsl^direH N^r' ?'' T T ^"^^ ^^^ ^-' ^° Xouig and goTd! 
ate r^ P^v n^ "'" '" '^" ^'''^''' °^ mothers rendered desper- 
^ve herr ^ Presumption, wickedness, and ignorance, and 

He felt his hold relaxing. They were silent still. 

this drtrdfUr''^ "" p!"^' • ' ^'"^ exclaimed, "as one in whom 
this dreadful cnme has sprung from Love perverted : from 
^he strongest, deepest Love we fallen creaturefknow 1 ThSk 
wh^ her misery must have been, when such seed bears s^ 
fruitl Heaven meant her to be Good. Then^ is nTlc^^ 



n i 



250 THE CHIMES. 

mother on the earth who might not come to this, if such a 
hfe had gone before. Oh, have mercy on my child, who, 
even at this pass, means mercy to her own, and dies herself, 
and j)erils her Immortal Soul, to save it ! " 

She was in his arms. He held her now. His strength 
was like a giant's. 

" I see the spirit of the Chimes among you ! " cried the old 
man, singling out the child, and speaking in some inspiration, 
which their looks conveyed to him. ** I know that our In- 
heritance is held in store for us by Time. I know there is a 
Sea of Time to rise one day, before 'v'mch all who wrong us 
or oppress us will be swept away like leivves. I see it, on the 
flow ! I know that we must trust and hope, and neither 
doubt ourselves, nor doubt the Good in one another. I have 
learnt it from the creature dearest to my heart. I clasp her 
in my arms again. O Spirits, merciful and good, I take 
your lesson to my breast along with her I O Spirits, merci- 
ful and good, f am grateful 1 " 

He migbr have said more, but the Bells— the old familiar 
Bells ; his own dear, constant, steady friends, the Chimes — 
began to ring the joy-peals for a New Year, so lustily, so 
merrily, so happily, so gaily, that he leapt upon his feet, and 
broke the spell that bound him. 

"And whatever you do, father," said Meg, "don't eat 
tripe again, without asking some doctor whether it's likely 
to agree with you ; for how you have been going on, Good 
gracious ! " 

She was working with her needle, at the little table by the 
fire, dressing her simple gown with ribbons for her wedding. 
So quietly happy, so blooming and youthful, so full of beauti- 
ful promise, that he uttered a great cry as if it were an Angel 
in his house ; then flew to clasp her in his arnas. 

But he caught his feet in the newspaper, which had fallen 
on the hearth, and somebody came rushing in between 
them. 

" No ! " cried the voice of this same somebody ; a generous 
and jolly voice it was ! " Not even you. Not even you. 
The first kiss of Meg in the New Year is mine. Mine ! I 
have been waiting outside the house, this hour, to hear the 



THE CHIMES. 251 

Bells, and claim it Meg. my precious prize, a happy year I 
A life of happy years, my darling wife ! " 

And Richard smothered her with kisses 

You never in all your life saw anything liko Trotty after 
this. I don t care where you have lived, or what you have 
seen you never m your life saw anything at all approaching 
him He sat down m his chair, and beat his knees and 
cried; he sat down m his chair, and beat his knees and 
aughed ; he sat down in his chair, and beat his knees and 
laughed and cned together ; he got out of his chair, and 
hugged Meg; he got out of his chair, and hugged Richard ; 
he got out of his chair, and hugged them both at once : he 
kept running up to Meg, and squeezing her fresh face be- 
tween his hands and kissing it, going from her backwards 
not to lose sight of it, and running up again like a figure in 
a magic-lantern ; and whatever he did, he was constantly 
itting himself down in this chair, and never stopping in it 
for one single moment; being-that's the truth-beside 
himself with joy. ^^^^v: 

T ".^"^ .f?;"'°"■°'^,'^ y^"' ^^edding-day, my Pet!" cried 
1 rotty. Your real, happy wedding-day ' " 

"To-day !» cried Richard, shaking hands with him. "To- 

them'" ^"^^ *^^ ringing in the New Year. Hear 

They WERE ringing I Bless their sturdy hearts, they were 

""S"^J .f"^' ^^}^ ^ ^^""y were-melodiou3, deep-mouth, d, 
noble Bells ; cast in no common metal ; made by no common 
founder-when had they ever Chimed like that before ! 

But tOKlay, my Pet," said Trotty. "You and Richard 
had some words to-day." 

_ "Because he's such a bad fellow, father," said Meg. 

Aint you, Richard? Such a headstrong, violent man 1 

Hcd have made no more of speaking his mind to that great 

hi woulTof ^""'"^ ^'"^ '^''''" ^ "^""'^ know where, than 

ii ^'^^'% ^''^'" ^"ggested Richard. Doing it too ' 

him f^;K wu^'- "^°7'>'^ Meg. "But I wouldn^ let 
him, father. Where would have been the use ? " 

Richard, my boy!" cried Trotty, "you was turned up 
Trumps origmally : and Trum,,s you miist be tiJ you u.e 1 



rrrt?" 



'■ I 



;lf 



353 

But 



THE CHIMES. 



you were crying by the fire to-night, my Pet, when I 
came home ! Why did you cry by the fire ? " 

" I was thmking of the years we've passed together, father. 
Only that And thinking you might miss me, and be 
lonely." 

Trotty was backing off to that extraordinary chair again, 
when the child, who had been awakened by the noise, came 
nmning in half-dressed. 

" Why, ' here she is ! " cried Trotty, catching her up. 
" Here's little Lilian ! Ha, ha, ha ! Here we are, and here 
we go ! Oh, here we are, and here we go again ! And here 
we are, and here we go ! And Uncle Will too ! " — stopping 
in his trot to greet him heartily. "Oh, Uncle Will, the 
Vision that I've had to-night through lodging you ! Oh, 
Uncle Will, the obligations that you've laid me under by 
your coming, my good friend ! " 

Before Will Fern could make the least reply, a Band of 
Music burst into the room, attended by a flock of neighbours, 
screaming, " A Happy New Year, Meg ! " "A Happy Wed- 
ding ! " " Many of 'em I " and other fragmentary good wishes 
of that sort. The Drum (who was a private friend of Trotty's) 
then stepped forward, and said, — 

" Trotty Veck, my boy ! it's got about that your daughter 
is going to be married to-morrow. There ain't a soul that 
knows you that don't wish you well, or that knows her and 
don't wish her well, or that knows you both and don't 
wish you both all the happiness the New Year can bring. 
And here we are, to play it in and dance it in, accordingly." 

Which was received with a general shout. The Drum was 
rather drunk, by-the-bye ; but never mind. 

"What a happiness it is, I'm sure," said Trotty, "to be so 
esteemed ! How kind and neighbourly you are ! It's all 
along of my dear daughter. She deserves it : " 

They were ready for a dance m half a second (Meg and 
Richard at the top), and the Drum was on the very brink of 
leathering away with all his power, when a combination of 
prodigious sounds was heard outside, and a good-humoured 
comely woman of some fifty years of age, or thereabouts, 
came running in, attended by a m.an bearing a stone pitcher 
of terrific size, and closely followed by the marrow-bones and 



THE CHIMES. 25, 

Jni:^t:;i%aYn^- Chickenstalkerr and sat down. 

« mJ^o^ t"^' ^",^ "°* ^^" "'^' ^^g • " <="^ the good woman 
-Never! I couldn't rest on the last night of the Old Ye^; 

C Not"fTha°dt^' rJy; ' ^'"^^"'^ have done," 
v^T ?^ r i^^ ^^" bedndden. So here I am • and a^ 
It's New Year's Eve, and the Eve of your weddfnetoo m^ 

Mrs. Chickenstalker's notion of a little flip did honour 
to her character. The pitcher steamed and smoked and 
reeked hke a volcano, and the man who had cim'edit ^ 

"Mrs. Tugby !» said Trott^, who had been going round 
and round her, ni an ecstasy-"! ./..«/^say ChSstXr 

her ^'i cl«:^ ^^^K-'t'^ ^';?">'' ^-^^^^ h« had saluted 
andlilian!^ "^^ Chickenstalker-this is Willian. Fern 

ve^^r'edT"''^^ ^"''' '° ^" '""P"'"' '""^"^ ^^^ P^^^ and 

said^hi. ^'"^" ^^"^ "^^"'^ "'''^^^' ^'^^ '" ^Dorsetshire?" 

Her uncle answered "Yes," and meeting hastily they ex- 

"noMhL^rn!l"rl'^'^'°"^' Pu""'"S «" his right-hand muffler. 
«? A *he friend that you was hoping to find ? » 

shoutfen: '^"T'^'^i-r"' P"'''"S ^ ^^"^ ^" ^ach of Trotty's 

boulders^ "And hke to prove a'most as good a friend if 

that can be, as one I found." 6^0- 'nena, 11 

CVe'^.TllLl^' "Please to play up there. Will you 

anJ hI«! """'i? °^ *^^ *^"^' *h^ ^"^' the marrow-bones 

n h,.,f "^ ^^ ^' °"^^ ^"^ ^^"^ '^he Chimes were yet 

Rii^ operation out of doors, Trotty, making Meg ^d 

Richard second couple, led ofiF Mrs. Chickensulker do^ 



^ *1 



254 THE CHIMES. 

the dance, and danced it in a step unknown before or since, 
founded on his ovm peculiar trot. 

Kad Trotty dreamed? Or are his joys and sorrows, and 
the actors in them, but a dream ; himself a dream ; the 
teller of this tale a dreamer, waking but now? If it be so, 
O Listener, dear to him in all his visions, try to bear in 
mind the stem realities from which these shadows come; 
and in your sphere— none is too wide, and none too limited 
for such an end — endeavour to correct, improve, and soften 
them. So may the New Year be a Happy one to You, 
Happy to many more whose Happiness depends on You' 
So may each Year be happier than the last, and not the 
meanest of our brethren or sisterhood debarred their rightful 
share isi what our Great Creator formed them to enjoy. 



1^ 



^*'? 



■I 






THE END OF "the CHIMES. 



U ; 



ice, 

and 
the 
so, 
in 
ne; 
ited 
"ten 
ou, 
ou' 
the 
tful 



THE HAUNTED MAN 

and 

THE GHOSTS BARGAIN 



li 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



AND 



THE GHOSTS BARGAIN. 



-♦•- 



CHAPTER I. 

THE GIFT BESTOWED. 

EVERYBODY said so. 
Far be it from me to assert that what evervboHv qhv. 

sfoU aid^fS2lT^"'"^ everybod/has been^^^n^ 
1k;i ! ' J^ , ^''^"' '" "^°st mstances, such a wearv 

to t fall^f ""^ ^°l.r"^' ^^^^ ^« authority is pmT.3 

be falhbe Everybody may sometimes be right "but 

^j^x^no rule." a^ the ghost of Giles Scroggins sfys 'in the 

The dread word, Ghost, recalls me. 

liverybody said he looked like a haunted man TK^ 

Who could have seen his hollow cheek : his sunken 
althoTI "'Vv^ black-attired figure, indkrbl-^m 
although well-kmt and well-proportioned ; his gnzzUd^^r 
hanging hke tangled seaweed, about his face^^^ he had 
been through his whole life, a lonely mark^the chafi^ 
wid bea mg of the great deep of hunJanity-but mLht ha^ 
saidhe looked like a haunted man ? ^ ^ 

Who could have observed his manner-taciturn, thoughtful 



If 



\m 



n f 




258 THE HAUNTED MAN 

gloomy, shadowed by habitual reserve, retiring always and 
jocund never, with a distraught air of reverting to a bygone 
place and time, or of listening to some old echoes in his 
mind — but might have said it was the manner of a haunted 
man? 

Who could have heard his voice — slow-speaking, deep, and 
grave, ^v^th a natural fullness and melody in it which hi- 
seemed to set himself against and stop — but might have said 
it was the voice of a haunted man ? 

Who that had seen him in his inner chamber, part iibran- 
and part laboratory — for he was, as the world knew, far and 
wide, a learned man in chemistry, and a teacher on whose 
lips and hands a crowd of aspiring ears and eyes hung daily 
— who that had seen him there, upon a winter night, alone, 
surrounded by his drugs and instruments and books ; the 
shadow of his shaded lamp a monstrous beetle on the wall, 
motionless among a crowd of spectral shapes raised there by 
the flickering of the fire upon the quaint objects around him; 
some of these phantoms (the reflection of glass vessels that 
held liquids) trembling at heart like things that knew his 
power to uncombine them, and to give back their component 
parts to fire and vapour ; — who that had seen him then, his 
work done, and he pondering in his chair before the rusted 
grate and red flame, moving his thin mouth as if in speech, 
but silent as the dead, would not have said that the man 
seemed haunted, and the chamber too ? 

Who might not, by a very easy flight of fancy, have 
believed that everything about him took this haunted tone, 
and that he lived on haunted ground ? 

His dwelling was so solitary and vault-like — an old, retired 
part of an ancient endowment for students, once a brave 
edifice, planted in an open place, but now the obsolete whim 
of forgotten architects, smoke-age-and-weather-darkened, 
squeezed on every side by the overgrowing of the great city, 
and choked, like an old well, with stones and bricks ; its 
small quadrangles, lying down in very pits formed by the 
streets and buildings which, in course of time, had been 
constructed above its heavy chimney-stacks ; its old trees, in- 
sulted by the neighbouring smoke, which deigned to droop ^ 
SO low when it was very feeble and the weather very moody; 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 259 

Its grass-plots, struggling with the mildewed earth to be grass, 
or to win any show of compromise ; its silent pavements, un- 
accustomed to the tread of feet, and even to the observation 
ot eyes, excejn when a stray face looked down from the 
upper world, wondering what nook it was ; its sun-dial in a 
little bricked-up corner, where no sun had straggled for a 
hundred years, but where, in compensation for the sun's 
neglect, the snow would lie for weeks when it lay nowhere 
else, and the black east wind would spin like a huge hum- 
ming-top, when in all other places it was silent and still. 

His dwelling, at its heart and core— witliin doors— at his 
fireside— was so lowering and old, so crazy, yet so strong 
with Its worm-eaten beams of wood in the ceiling, and its 
sturdy floor shelving downward to the great oak chimney- 
piece ; so environed and hemmed in by the pressure of the 
town, yet so remote in fashion, age, and custom; so quiet, 
yet so thundering with echoes when a distant voice was 
raised or a door was shut— echoes, not confined to the many 
iow passages and empty rooms, but rumbling and grumbling 
nil they were stifled in the heavy air of the forgotten Crv'pt 
where the Norman arches were half-buried in the earth 

You should have seen him in his dwelling about twilight 
m the dead winter time. 

When the wind was blowing, shrill and shrewd, with the 
going down of the blurred sun. When it was just so dark 
as that the forms of things were indistinct and big, but not 
wholly lost. When sitters by the fire began to see wild faces 
and tigures, mountains and abysses, ambuscades and armies 
in the coals. When people in the streets bent down their 
heads, and ran before the weather. When those who were 
Obliged to meet it were stopped at angry corners, stung by 
wandering snowflakes alighting on the lashes of their eyes— 
which fell too sparingly, and were bloNvn away too quickly, to 
leave a trace upon the frozen ground. When windows of 
private houses closed up tight and warm. WTien lighted gas 
oegan to burst forth in the busy and the quiet streets, fast 
Olackenmg otherwise. When strav pedestrians, shiverine 
^ "• ^o"g ^he latter, looked down at the glowing fires in kitchenl 
Iroop *"d sharpened their sharp appetites by sniffing up the fra- 
^Hvj grance of whole miles of dinners. 



26o 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



r 
If 



ir 



II 



When travellers by land were bitter cold, and looked 
wearily on gloomy landscapes, rustling and shuddering in the 
blast. When mariners at sea, outlying upon icy yards, were 
tossed and swung above the howling ocean dreadfully. 
When lighthouses, on rocks and headlands, showed solitary 
and watchful, and benighted sea-birds breasted on against 
their ponderous lanterns, and fell dead. When little readers 
of story-books, by the firelight, trembled to think of Cassim 
Baba cut into quarters, hanging in the Robbers' Cave, or had 
some small misgivings that the fierce little old woman with 
the crutch, who used to start out of the box in the merchant 
Abudah's bedroom, might, one of these nights, be found 
upon the stairs, in the long, cold, dusky journey up to bed. 

When, in rustic places, the last glimmering of daylight 
died away from the ends of avenues, and the trees, arching 
overhead, were sullen and black. When, in parks and woods, 
the high wet fern and sodden moss, and beds of fallen leaves, 
and trunks of trees, were lost to view, in masses of impene- 
trable shade. When mists arose from dike, and fen, and 
river. When lights in old halls and in cottage windows 
were a cheerful sight. When the mill stopped, the wheel- 
wright and the blacksmith shut their workshops, the turnpike 
gate closed, the plough and harrow were left lonely in the 
fields, the labourer and team went home, and the striking of 
the church-clock had a deeper sound than at noon, and the 
churchyard wicket would be swung no more that night. 

When twilight everywhere released the shadows, prisoned 
up all day, that now closed in and gather^:d like mustering 
swarms of ghost^j. When they stood lowering, in corners of 
rooms, and frowned out from behind half-opened doors. 
When they had full possession of unoccupied apartments. ( 
When they danced upon the floors, and walls, and ceilings of 
inhabited chambers, while the fire was low, and withdrew 
like ebbing waters when it sprung into a blaze. When they 
fantastically mocked the shapes of household objects, making 
the nurse an ogress, the rocking-horse a monster, the wonder- 
ing child, half-scared and half-amused, a stranger to itself-;- 
the very tongs upon the hearth a straddling giant with his 
arms akimbo, evidently smelling the blood of Englishmen, 
and wanting to grind people's bones to make liis bread. 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 26I 

When these shadows brought into the minds of older 
people other thoughts, and showed them different image«i. 
W hen they stole from their retreats, in the likenesses of fonr.s 
ind faces from the past, from the grave, from the deep, deep 
.ulf where the thmgs that might have been, and never were. 
are always wandering. 

When he sat, as already mentioned, gazing at the fire. 

V hen, as it rose and feU, the shadows went and came. 

Uhen he took no heed of them, with his bodily eyes, but, 

let them come or let them go, looked fixedly at the fire. You 

should have seen him then. 

When the sounds that had arisen with the shadows, and 
come out of their lurking-places at the twilight summons, 
seemed to make a deeper stillness all about him. When the 
wind was rumbling in the chimney, and sometimes crooninc 
sometimes howling, in the house. When the old trees outside 
were so shaken and beaten, that one querulous old rook 
unable to sleep, protested now and then, in a feeble, do/y' 
high-up " Caw ! " AVhen, at intervals, the window trembled! 
the rusty vane upon the turret-top complained, the clock 
oeneath it recorded that another quarter of an hour was 
gone, or the fire collapsed and fell in with a rattle. 

When a knock came at his door, in short, as he was sitting 
so, and roused him. 
" Who's that ? » said he. " Come in I " 
Surely there had been no figure leaning on the back of his 
chair, no face looking over it It is certain tnat no gliding 
footstep touched the floor as he lifted up his head, with a 
start, and spoke. And yet there was no mirror in the room 
^n whose surface his own form could have cast its shadow 
■ a moment ; and Something had passed darkly and gone 1 
" I'm humbly fearful, sir," said a fresh-coloured busy man, 
holding the door open with his foot for the admission of 
himself and a wooden tray he carried, and letting it go again 
oy very gentle and careful degrees, when he and the tray had 
got m, lest It should close noisily, " that it's a good bit past 
the time to-night. But Mrs. William has been taken off her 

1^ so often " 

II By the wind ? Ay ! I have heard it rising." 

" By the wind, sir — that it's a mercy she got home at alL 



262 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



Oh dear, yes. Yes. It was by the wind, Mr. Redlaw— by 
the wind." 

He had by this time put down the tray for dinner, and 
was employed in lighting the lamp, and spreading a cloth on 
the table. From this employment he desisted in a hurry, to 
stir and feed the fire, and then resumed it ; the lamp he had 
lighted, and the blaze that rose under his hand, so quickly 
changing the appearance of the room, that it seemed as if 
the mere coming in of his fresh red face and active manner 
had made the pleasant alteration. 

" Mrs. William is of course subject at any time, sir, to be 
taken off her balance by the elements. She is not formed 
superior to /Aat" 

"No," returned Mr. Redlaw good-naturedly, though 
abruptly. 

" No, sir. Mrs. William may oe taken off her balance by 
Earth ; as, for example, last Sunday week, when sloppy and 
greasy, and she going out to tea witn her newest sister-in-law, 
and having a pride in herself, and wishing to appear perfectly 
spotless though pedestrian. Mrs. William may be taken off 
her balance by Air; as being once over-persuaded by a 
friend to try a swing at Peckham Fair, which acted on her 
constitution instantly like a steamboat. Mrs. William may 
be taken off her balance by Fire ; as on a false alarm of 
engines at her mother's, when she went two mile in her 
nightcap. Mrs. William may be taken off her balance by 
Water ; as at Battersea, when rowed into the piers by her 
young nephew, Charley Swidger junior, aged twelve, which 
had no idea of boats whatever. But these are elements. 
Mrs. William must be taken out of elements for the strength 
of Aer character to come into play." 

As he stopped for a reply, the reply was "Yes," in the 
same tone as before. 

"Yes, sir. Oh dear, yes!" said Mr. Swidger, still pro- 
ceeding with his preparations, and checking them off as h- 
made them. "That's where it is, sir. That's what I alwav: 
say myself, sir. Such a many of us Swidgers ! — Pepper 
Why, there's my father, sir, superannuated keeper and 
custodian of this Institution, eigh-ty-seven year old. He's a 
Swidger I — Spoon." 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 26$ 

"True, William," was the patient and abstracted answer 
when he stopped again. ' 

. '• Yes, sir." said Mr. Swidger. "That's what I always say, 
sir. You may call him the trunk of the tree .'—Bread Then 
>;.'" ^"^"^^^to his successor, n.y unworiiiy self-Salt-and Mrs. 
William, Swidgers both.-Knife and fork. Then you come 
to all my brothers and their families, Swidgers, man an^ 
woman, boy and girl. Why, what with cousins, uncles, aunts 
and relationships of this, that, and t'other degree, and what- 
not degree, and marriages, and lyings-in, the Swidgers- 

En^aild r ""^ ^""^"^ °^ ^^""^"^ "^^ ""^^^ ^ ring round 

Receiving no reply at all here from the thoughtful man 
whom he addressed, Mr. William approached him nearer, 
and made a feint of accidentally knocking the table with a 
decanter, to rouse him. The moment he succeeded, he went 
on,^as If in great alacrity of acquiescence. 

w-i'7^^' ^"^' ^^f^ J"'' "^^^^ ^ ^y n^yseir, sir. Mrs. 
\Villiam and me have often said so. 'There's Swidgers 
enough, we say, 'without our voluntary contributions — 
liutter. In fact, sir, my father is a family in himself— Casters 
-to take care of; and it happens all for the best that we 
have no chi d of our own, though it's made Mrs. William 
rather quiet-like, too.— Quite ready for the fowl and mashed 
potatoes sir? Mrs. William said she'd dish in ten minutes 
when I left the Lodge ? " 

"I am quite ready," said the other, waking as from a 
dream, and walking slowly to and fro. 

"Mrs. William has been at it again, sir!" said the keeper, 
as he stood warming a plate at the fire, and pleasantly shad- 
ing his face with it. Mr. Redlaw stopped in his walking 
and an expression of interest apj ^ared in him. 

"What I always say myself, sir. She tvi// do it ! There's 
a motherly feeling in Mrs. WUliam's breast that must and will 
have went." 

"What has she done?" 

"Why, sir, not satisfied with being a sort of mother to all 
the young gentlemen that come up from a wariety of parts 
to attend your courses of lectures at this ancient foundation 
—Its surpnsmg how stone-chaney catches the heat, this 

9a 



4 



t i?-^ 



If i 

li 1 

I 



2^4 THE HAf^NTED MAN 

frosty weather, to be sure I " Here he turned the plate, and 
cooled his fingers. 

"Well? "said Mr. Redlaw. 

" That's just what I say myself, sir," returned Mr. William, 
speaking over his shoulder, as if in ready and delighted 
assent. " That's exactly whore it is, sir I There ain't one of 
our students but appears to regard Mrs. William in that light. 
Every day, right through tiic course, they puts their heads 
into the I^dge, one after another, and have ail got something 
to tell her, or something to ask her. ' Swidge * is the appella- 
tion by which they s[)eak of Mrs. William in general, among 
themselves, I'm told ; but that's what I say, sir. Better bo 
called ever so far out of your name, if it's done in real liking, 
(han have it made ever so much of, and not cared about ! 
What's a name for? To know a person by. If Mrs. William 
is known by something better than her name— I allude to 
Mrs. William's qualities and disposition— never mind hor 
name, though it is Swidgor by rights. Let 'em call hor 
Swidge, Widge, Bridge— I^rd ! London Bridge, Blackfriars'. 
Chelsea, Putney, Waterloo, or Hammersmith Suspension— ii 
they like ! " 

The close of this triumphant oration brought him and the 
plate to the table, upon which he half laid and half dropped 
it, with a lively sense of its being thoroughly heated, just as 
the subject of his praises entered the room, bearing another 
tray and a lantern, and followed by a venerable old man with 
long grey hair. 

Mrs. William, like Mr. William, was a simple, innocent 
looking person, in whose smooth cheeks the cheerful red ol 
her husband's official waistcoat was very pleasantly repeated 
But whereas Mr. William's light hair stood on end all over 
his head, and seemed to draw his eyes up with it in an excess 
of bustling readiness for anything, the dark brown hair of 
Mrs. William was carefully smoothed dovra, and waved away 
under a trim tidy cap, in the most exact and quiet manner 
imaginable. AV'hereas Mr. William's very trousers hitched 
themselves up at the ankles, as if it were not in their iron- 
grey nature to rest without looking about them, Mrs. 
William's neatly-flowered skirts— red and white, like her own 
pretty face — were as composed and orderly, as if (he very 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 2^5 

wind that blew so hard out of doors could not disturb one of 

nTh^f ;r ^'''''•''' ^^ '"'^' '^^^ ^<'nHthing of a fly-awav 
and half-off appearance alK)ut tht- collar and breast, het littK- 
bodice was so placid and neat, that there should have been 
protection for her, m it, had she needed any, with tlu^ 
roughest people. Who could have hurl the heart to make so 
ca m a bosom swell with grieC or throb with fenr, or flutter 
with a thought of shame? '|o whom would its rep(,se ard 
peace hav-e not appealed against disturbance, like the inno- 
cent slumber of a child ? 

J'^yT^^l ""^ T''''. ^^^^h-r^ak\ her ! usband, relieving 
Sf„°^ ^^^ tray, "or it wouldn't he ^.u. Here's Mr 
William, sir!— He looks lonelier than eV. r to n'Vht " wl i ' 
pering to his wife, as he was taking the tr.iy. -..rul phostii.-r 
altogether. n - 

Without any show of hurr>' or noise, or any sho.v of !kt- 
selt even, she was so calm and tpiiet, Milly set t! e .iMcs she 
had brought upon the table-Mr. William, after much dat-' 
tering and running about, having onlv gained possession of a 
butter-boat of gravy, which he stood rtadv to serve. 

** ^^'hat is that the old man has in his arms?" asked Mr 
Kedlaw, as he sat down to his solitary meal. 
II Holly, sir," replied the quiet voice of Milly. 
"That's what I say myself, sir," interposed Mr William 
striking in with the butter-boat. " Berries is so seasonable to 
the time of year !— Brown gravy ! " 

"Another Christmas come, another year gone!" murmured 
the Lhcmist, with a gloomy sigh. "More figures in the 
lengthening sum of recollection that we work and work at to 
our tormetit till Death idly jumbles all together, and rubs all 
f^ \ ^ P • breaking off, and raising his voice as he 
addressed the old man, standing apart, with his glistening 
burden in his arms, from which the quiet Mrs. William took 
small branches, which she noiselessly trimmed with her scis- 
sors, and decorated the room with, while her aged father-in- 
law looked on, m.urh interested in the ceremony. 

"My duty to you, sir," returned the old man. "Should 
have spoken before, sir, but know your ways, Mr. Redlaw— 
proud to say-and wait till spoke to ! Merrv Christmas, sir, 
and happy New Year, and many of 'em. Have had a pretty 



266 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



It :. 



I I 



many of 'em myself— ha, ha !— and may take the liberty of 
wishmg 'em. I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Have you had so many that were merry and happv ? " 
asked the other. ' 

"Ay, sir, ever so rtiany," returned the old man. 

" Is his memory impaired with age ? It is to be expected 
now," said Mr. Redlaw, turning to the son, and speakin' 
lower. * 

" Not a morsel of it, sir," replied Mr. William. " That's 
exactly what I say myself, sir. There never was such a 
memory as my father's. He's the most wonderful man in 
the world. He don't know what forgetting means. It's th.> 
very observation I'm always making to Mrs. William, sir ii 
you'll believe me I " 

Mr. Swidger, in his polite desire to seem to acquiesce at 
all events, delivered this as if there were no iota of contradic- 
tion in it, and it were all said in unbounded and unqualified 
assent. 

The Chemist pushed his plate away, and, rising from the 
table, walked across the room to where the old man stood 
looking at a little sprig of holly in his hand, 

" It recalls the time when many of those years were old 
and new, then?" he said, observing him aLtcntively, ami 
touching him on the shoulder. *' Does it ? " 

"Oh, many, many!" said Philip, half-awaking from his 
reverie. " I'm eighty-seven ! " 

"Merry and happy, was it?" asked the Chemist in a low 
voice. " Merry and happy, old man ? " 

" Maybe as high as that, no higher," said the old man, 
holdmg out his hand a littlt way above the level of his knee, 
and looking retrospectively at his questioner, " when I first 
remember 'em ! Cold, sunshiny day it was, out a-walkin?, 
when some one — it was my mother as sure as you stand there, 
though I don|t know what her blessed face was like, for she 
took ill and died that Christmas-time — told me they were food 
for birds. The pretty little fellow thought— that's me, you 
understand— that birds' eyes were so bright, perhaps, because 
the berries that they lived on in the winter were so bright. I 
recollect that And I'm eighty-seven ! " 

" Merry aiid happy ! " mused the other, bending his dark 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 2^7 

ey« upon the stooping figure with a smile of comnassion 
Merry and happy_and remember well ? » ^°"^P^sion. 

Ay, ay ay!" resumed the old man, catcbfnc the las* 
words. "I remember 'em well in my school time lear a te.- 
S '"t '" '^' '"-^O^'V^king that used to come 'a ong with 
them. I was a strong chap then. Mr. Redlaw ; andTAou'll 
believe me, hadn't my match at football within ten mHe 

ever there was one of the family ! " a^MOger, it 

" ^ear ! "said the old man, shaking his head as he a^ain 

looked at the holly. "His mother-my son WH Ham 's^^v 

litdeTh nr"~";ji^-^""^ ^^^ ^'"^"g '^^ -». boy. an" giHs' 

hese were'Tn?" t^""'"!: T">' t y^^^' ^^hen the berriesTke 

St faces Ma^vn? >"'^ '^ ^"^^^ ^" ^°""^ "« ^« ^heir 
ongni laces. Many of 'em are gone : she's gone • and mv 

os".?!sT.ln *="?'■ "'T-'l ^" P"<'« n,or.h'anan S 
here' alive ,nHT^K''• ^f ' '^" ^'^'^ 'hem, when I look 
nere, ahve and healthy, as they used to be in those dav, • 

bfessllThlnft'o'""'' '^^l ^°* '" "'» »"««"- iS a 
Diessed thmg to me, at eighty-seven." 

The keen look that had been fixed upon him with so much 
earnestness had gradually sought the ground. 

vvhen my circumstances got to be not sn crr.nH oc 
formerly, through not being honestly dealt by and I firs 
come here to be custodian," said the old man-" which uS 
upwards of fifty years ago-where's my son William ? More 
than half a century ago, William ' " 

andTfjfX" ir^""' l!?^' ^^^^^'■'" ^^•I^'''^^ the son, as promptly 
and dutifully as before; "that's exactly where it is Two 

"It was quite a pleasure to know that one of our founders 
^orv r hV°T'^y speaking," said the old man, with a grel 
glory in his subject and his knowledge of it, "one of the 
arned gentlemen that helped enaow us in Qu^en ElLbeth' 
time, for we were founded afore her day-left in his will 
among the other bequests he made us,'so much to buy 



268 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



holly, for garnishing the walls and windows come Christmas 
There was something homely and friendly in it. Being but 
strange here, then, and coming at Christmas time, we took 
a likmg for his very picter that hangs in what used to hv 
anciently, afore our ten poor gentlemen commuted for an 
annual stipend in money, our great Dinner Hall— A sedate 
gentleman in a peaked beard, with a ruff round his neck, an.l 
a scroll below him, in old English letters, ' Lord ! keep my 
memory green ! ' You know all about him, Mr. Redlaw ? " 
'' I know the portrait hangs there, Philip." 
" Yes, sure, it's the second on the right, above the panel- 
ling. I was going to say— he has helped to keep my memory 
green, I thank him ; for going round the building every year 
as I m a-domg now, and freshening up the bare rooms with 
these branches and berries, freshens up my bare old brain 
One year brings back another, and that year another and 
those others numbers ! At last, it seems to me as if the 
birth-time of our Lord was the birth-time of all I have ever 
had affection for, or mourned for, or delighted in— and 
they re a pretty many, for Fm eighty-seven ! " 

^ Merry and happy," murmured Redlaw to himself. 
1 he room began to darken strangely. 
"So you see, sir," pursued old Philip, whose hale wintry 
cheek had warmed into a ruddier glow, and whose blue eyes 
had brightened, while he spoke, « I have plenty to keep when 
1 keep this present season. Now, where's my quiet Mouse ' 
Lhattering's the sin of my time of life, and there's half the 
building to do yet, if the cold don't freeze us first, or the 
wind dont blow us away, or the darkness don't swallow 
us up. 

The quiet Mouse had brought her calm face to his side, 
and silently taken his arm, before he finished speaking 

Come away, my dear," said the old man. " Mr. Redlaw 
wont settle to his dinner, otherwise, till it's cold as the 
winter. I hope you'll excuse me rambling on, sir, and I wish 
you good night, and, once again, a merry " 

" Stay ! " said Mr. Redlaw, resuming his place at the table, 

more, it would have seemed from his manner, to reassure the 

Old keeper, than in any remembrance of his own appetite. 

Spare me another moment, Philip \Villiam, you were 



going to tell me so 



AND THE GHOSt 

mething 



'S BARGAIN. 



269 



!.\:;'L"i.'^'^-8--^T^-her.oT:? 



-our excellent wife's honour 



U'hat was it ? " 

Wi'nLm'swidger T^"^]' t 'T J^''"' -f '.' ^-'"'"^d Mr. 

been made so mild, if that was the in mien C'"' "?T 

Mr. William, standing behind thf Mhlo ''y'""'^'"^^- 
disconcertedly amon? the ohiVr f. ,m .5^ ^ rummaging 
glances at Mrs S.^ ^ i ^''" ^^' '^"'^'^'^'^ persuasive 
fhumb at Mr r J^^ ' and secret jerks of Ms head and 

mm, you know, mv bve " stiVI m- wu- 
in the Buildings. Tell mv d,^! v' ,"• """" 

Shakespeare in' con,pa isc^ w1 h n.v elf"' iv' ™''\"' 
Buddings, you know, !i,y love.-S.udem ' " '" "^*^ 

" 7 didn ? 1 ?■ "V l''™' "y drar-Iiuildings." 

l»use?Jratn";^bc;?'.f "^ "'' ^"" ''■'"'"^ I^ooD-what 

"Not go there?" 

" Oh dear, no = " said Milly. shaking her head as at a must 



270 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



I 






I r 



i<S"a 



manifest and self-evident impossibility. "It owidn't be 
thought of!" 

" What do you mean ? W'hy not ? " 

"Why, you see, sir," said Mr \\ .lliam Swidger, persuasively 
and confidentially, " that's what I say. Depend upon it, the 
young gentleman would never have made his situation known 
to one of his own sex. Mrs. William has got into his con- 
fiderice, but that's quite different. They all confide in Mrs. 
William ; they all trust A?r, A man, sir, couldn't have got a 
whisper out of him ; but woman, sir, and Mrs. William com 
bined ! " 

"There is good sense and delicacy in what you sav, 
William," returned Mr. Redlaw, observant of the gentle and 
composed face at his shoulder. And laying his finger on his 
lip, he secretly put his purse into her hand. 

"Oh dear, no, sir!" cried Milly. giving it back again. 
" Worse and worse ! Couldn't be dreamrd of ! " 

Such a staid, matter-of-fact housewife she was, and so 
unruffled by the momentary haste of th:;i rejection, that, an 
instant afterwards, she was tidily picking up a few leavt > 
which had strayed from between her scissors and her apron, 
when she had a) nged the holly. 

Finding, when she rose fiom her stooping posture, that Mr. 
Redlaw was .still regarding her with doubt and astonishment, 
she quietly repeated — looking about, the while, for any other 
fragments that might have escaped her observation, — 

" Oh dear, no, sir ! He said that of all the world he would 
not be known to you, or receive help from you — though he 
is a student in your class. I have made no terms of secrecy 
with you, but I trust to vour honour completely." 

" Why did he say so ?'" 

" Indeed I can't tell, sir," said Milly, after thinking a little, 
" because I am not at all clever, you know ; and I wanted tti 
be useful to him in making things neat and comfortable about 
him, and employed myself that way. But I know he is poor, 
and lonely, and I think he is somehow neglected too. — How 
dark it is ! " 

The room had darkent^l more and more. There was a 
very heavy gloom and shadow gathering behind the Chem- 
ist s chair. 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 271 

" What more about him ? " he asked. 
wh"^/^ engaged to be married when he can afford it," said 
Mdly, and IS studymg, I think, to quahfy himself to earn a 
living. I have seen, a long time, that he has studied hard 
and denied himself much.— How very dark it is ' " 

u "F^ ^ul?.^^ ^""^^^'^ too," said the old man, "rubbing his 
hands. There's a chill and dismal feeling in the room. 
U here s my son ^Vllh■am ? William, my boy, turn the lamp, 
and rouse the fire 1 " ^ 

Milly's voice resumed, like quiet music very softly played — 
He muttered m his broken sleep yesterday afternoon, 
after talking to me" (this was to herselQ, "about some one 
dead, and some great wrong done that could never be for- 
gotten ; but whether to him or to another person, I don't 
know. Not />y him, I am sure."' 

"And, in short, Mrs. William, you see— which she wouldn't 
say herself, Mr. l^edlaw, if she was to stop here till the new 
year after this next one," said Mr. William, coming up to 
him 'X) speak m his ear— "has done him worlds of good 
Bless you worlds of good! All at home just the same as 
ever : my father made as snug and comfortable— not a crumb 
o{ litter to be found in the house, if you were to offer fifty 
pound ready money for it— Mrs. W^illiam apparently never 
out of the way -yet Mrs. William backwards and forwards, 
backwards and forwards, up and down, up and down, a 
mother to him ! " 

The room turned darker and colder, and the gloom and 
shadow gathering behind the chair was heavier. 

"Not content with this, sir, Mrs. William goes and finds 
this very night, svhen she was coming home (why, it's not 
above a couple of hours ago), a creature more like a young 
wild beast than a young child, shivering upon a doorstep 
U hat does Mrs. William do but brings it home to dry it, and 
feed it, and keep it till our old Bounty of food and flannel 
IS given away on Christmas morning ! If it ever felt a fire 
before, its as much as it ever did; for it's sitting in the old 
l.odge chimney, staring at ours as if its ravenous eyes 

A? A.rMr'"'' ^^"^ '^^'^'"- ^^'^ ''"'"g there, at least," said 
-Mr. William, correcting himself, on reflection, "unlesa its 
bolted ! 



.1 II 



!!■ 



I f 



V 



272 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" Heaven keep her happy ! " said the Chemist aloud ; "and 
you too, Philip ! and you, William ! I must consider what to 
do in this. I may desire to see this student. I'll not detain 
you longer now. Good night .' " 

"I thank'ee, sir, I thank'ee!" said the old man, "for 
Mouse, and for my son William, and for myself. Where s 
my son William ? Willian> you take the lantern and go on 
first, through them long dark passages, as you did last yccir 
and the year afore. Ha, ha ! / remember— though I'm 
eighty-seven ! ♦ Lord, keep my memory green ! ' It's a very 
good prayer, Mr. Redlaw, thai of the learned gentleman in 
the peaked beard, with a ruff round his neck— hangs up, 
second on the right above the panelling, in what used to be! 
afore our ten poor gentlemen commuted, our great Dinner 
Hall. * Lord, keep my memory green ! ' It's very good and 
pious, sir. Amen ! Amen ! " 

As they passed out, and shut the heavy door, which, how- 
ever carefully withheld, fired a long train of thundering re- 
verberations when it shut at last, the room turned darker. 

As he fell a-musing in his chair alone, the healthy holly 
withered on the wall, and dropped— dead branches. 

As the gloom and shadow thickened behind him, in that 
place where it had been gathering so darkly, it took, by slow 
degrees— or out of it there came, by some unreal, unsub- 
stantial process, nor to be traced by any human sense— an 
awful likeness of hin.iielf ! 

Ghastly and cold, colourless in its leaden face and hands, 
but with his features, and his bright eyes, and his grizzled 
hair, and dressed in the gloomy shadow of his dress, it came 
into its terrible appearance of existence, motionless, without 
a sound. As he leaned his arm upon the elbow of his chair, 
ruminating before the fire, // leaned upon the chair-back, 
close above him, with its appalling copy of his face looking 
where his face looked, and bearing the expression his face 
bore. 

This, then, was the Something that had passed and gone 
already. This was the dread companion of the haunted 
man ! 

It took, for some moments, no more apparent heed of him 
than he of it. The Christmas Waits were playing somewhere 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 273 

". Y^'^ ^8»'";" replied the Phantom. 

•' Whi ? ""^ '""'"'^ ■" head, assenting. ^ 

__ Uhy do you come to haunt me thus?" 

"nT^I-^T ?'l^-d.". r<-"lied the Ghost. 
"Iinhi,M k''™' '^•\'=I^'""--'1 'he Chemist, 
am h";;; J'"^" *" "• ^'^ ""= Spectre. "It is enough. I 

if Si'T°.i"'r '''«•" °' ""= fi'-^- h^d shone on the two faces- 
ace hnThHT'"'"!"'" ^*'''"'' ">•= <='>«ir might be calkdl 
ng aT^he othe/TV^^'t 'i' ^^ ^' "^^'' ""^ "either took 
anV tired „;;„ t' g^.'^^f 1-unted man turned suddenly 

motion passeStVl!i:fo::,t^ha'i\„^d'':£edorht" '" '' 
The hvmg man, and the animated image of himie f d..prf 

f K mI,- "^'y ^"^ remote part of an emntv old niU 

bu,ldmg, on a winter night, with the loud wnLob/b^ 
upon Its journey of mystery— whenre or itK.-.K ^ ^ ^ 

the worlds bulk is as a gram, and its hoary age is infancy 
. Look upon me ! " said the Spectre. - 1 am he nStf^d 

rnd'Jtir/'' '"' T^'^'^'y P°^^' ^^-^^ strot'and suffer d 
and St II strove and suffered, until I hewed out knowledge 

h?.nf f ""'"' ""^^'V ""^ b""^^^' ^"^ n^'^de rugged steps 
thereof, for my worn feet to rest and rise on." ^^ ^ 

^ I c./« that man," returned the Chemist, 
"no f^fh"""' ' self-denying love," pursued the Phantom 

rat"h°er^fXcr:.;;ritf C-a iTSr- '""'f^ 

01 that sort Hhose care soon ends, and who«=e d-H- -'^ -or- 

^ift^^:!^'^^ ^^°^^ ^^^^' - birds'clo'ihS; 
•"u, u me> ao weii, claim the ment, and, if ill, the pity." 



J 



I I 






H I 
J * 

III 

T «. 



*74 THE HAUNTED MAN 

It paused, and seemed to tempt and goad him with its 
look, and with the manner of its speech, and with its smile 

"I am he," pursued the Phantom, "who, in this struecle 
upward, found a friend. I made him, won him, bound him 
to me! We worked together, side by side. All the love 
and confidence that in my earlier youth had had no outlet, 
and found no expression, I bestowed on him." 

" Not all," said Redlaw hoarsely. 

"No, not all," returned the Phantom. " I had a sister." 

The haunted man, with his head resting on his hands 
replied, " I had ! " 

The Phantom, with an evU smile, drew closer to the chair, 
and resting its chin upon its folded hands, its folded hands 
upon the back, and looking down into his face with search- 
ing eyes that seemed instinct with fire, went on,— 

"Such glimpses of the light of home as I had ever known 
hao streamed from her. How young she was, how fair, how 
loving ! I took her to the first poor roof that I was master 
of, and made it rich. She came into the darkness of my 
hfe, and made it bright.— She is before me ! " 

"I saw her in the fire but now. I hear her in music, in 
the wind, in the dead stillness of the night," returned the 
haunted man. 

"Did he love her?" said the Phantom, echoing his con- 
templative tone. " I think he did, once. I am sure he did 
Better had she loved him less— less secretly, less dearly, from 
the shallower depths of a more divided heart ! " 

"Let me forget it!" said the Chemist, with an angry 
motion of his hand. " Let ine blot it from my memory ! " 

The Spectre, without stirring, and with its unwinking, cruel 
eyes still fixed upon his face, went on,— 

" A dream like hers stole upon my own life." 

•♦It did," said Redlaw. 
^ "A love, as like hers," pursued the Phantom, "as my 
interior nature might cherish, arose in my own heart. I 
was too poor to bind its object to my fortune then by anv 
thread of promise or entreaty. I loved her far too well to 
seek to do it. But, more than ever I had striven in my life, 
I strove to climb ! Only an inch gained brought me some- 
thmg nearer to the height. I toiled up ! In the late pauses 



AND THE GHOSTS BARCAIN. 9*. 

s". 1.7h rfcj. te ,hr-"^ -'- (swe., companion 7) 

hearth-Xn^„^^tjrr"^h7''^''' """ 'he cooling 
did I see?" ^ breaking, what pictures of the future 

of the nigh,, i„ thrrev^^ng^l'^T""- '" '"e dead still„e4 
Who r^elrpSntfTylof ■ Sctlrr.'^"' "- 

re^K;cI7e tn^^'^ir ^r ^^^^^^^^^ 

mellowed hapr^nmCi of .if n' °r°V '°'^'«'^ ^<= »"d 

and^i:;?ron-'hiSithXrr;r?^^^^^^^^ 

hopes and struggles, won hir .rv ^^/^^system of my 
frail universe. %^ sZr VuU^r^' "f ^^''''''^ "^^ 
doubly cheerful in mv hnm. r !, ^''^'' "^^^^'y ^^^oted, 

than the boyish lovf^ <=., T r 7"°^ ^^lonary to me 

sympathy, as^f it i^ere . v ^^ °1!'^'?^' ^ '^'"^ °^ ^' ^'^h 
times I even wonder wh^ T' u'^'^"'"'^ ^'^ ^ ^°"'^- Some- 
and how irhad Te, .1 ^^^^'■ ^T*^ ^'^'^^ '"^""^d to him. 

I think.-But that'^nS^'p"^ "^\ ^°^ ^'^'^^^^ °"^- 
from a hand I loved and ust -1 ^''^/ ^happiness, a wound 
replace, outlive ^^ch fancies '' ' '' '^"' ""'*^'"^ '^^^ 

andT W^ii'^'^TL^nr'"'"' "' ^"^' ^^^^^" °^^ * Sorrow 
* '^vrong. ihus I prey upon myself. Thus, meawiy is 



Ill 



[L. 



276 THE HAUNTED MAN 

my curse ; and, if I could forget my sorrow and my wrong, 
I would ! " 

"Mocker!" said the Chemist, leaping up, and making, 
with a wrathful hand, at the throit of his other self. " Why- 
have I always that taunt in my ears ? " 

"Forbear!" exclaimed the Spectre in an awful voice. 
" Lay a hand on Me, and die ! " 

He stopped midway, as if its words had paralyzed him. 
and stood looking on it. It had glided from him ; it had its 
arm raised high in warning ; and a smile pa.ssed over its un- 
earthly features, as it reared its dark figure in triumph. 

" If I could forget my sorrow and wrong, I would," the 
Ghost repeated. "If I could forget my sorrow and ni) 
wrong, I would ! ** 

" Evil spirit of myself," returned the haunted man, in a 
low, trembling tone, " my life is darkened by that incessant 
whisper." 

" It is an echo," said the Phantom. 

" If it be an echo of my thoughts— as now, indeed, I know- 
it is," rejoined the haunted man—" why should I, therefore, 
be tormented? It is not a selfish thought. I suffer it to 
range beyond myself. All men and women have thtir 
sorrows — most of them their wrongs ; ingratitude, and sordid 
jealousy, and interest be.setting all degrees of life. Who 
would not forget their sorrows and their wrongs ? " 

" Who would not, truly ; and be the happier and better for 
it ? " said the Phantom. 

"These revolutions of years, which we commemorate," 
proceeded Redlaw, "what do they recall? Are there anv 
minds in which they do not reawaken some sorrow, or 
some trouble? What is the remembrance of the old man 
who was here to-night? A tissue of sorrow and trouble." 

**But common natures," said the Phantom, with its evil 
smile upon its glassy face, " unenlightened minds, and 
ordinary spirits, do not feel or reason on these things like 
men of higher cultivation and profounder thought." 

"Tempter," answered Redlaw, "whose hollow look and 
voice I dread more than words can express, and from whom 
some dim foreshadowing of greater fojir is stealing over me 
while I speak, I hear again an echo of my own mind." 



kr 
in 
ou 



"Rec«v. .*'"' '■"" """^'^ BARGAIN. ,,, 

»d trouble you have kno«^r/' '"'8^' ""= ^o""*'. *r„„g" 

ge3.ure\he uplif. '^,,^^'"1. r'™:,,^""'', ""I'' '""««' 
loubt of you, and the dim fear vou r i' """' '''"'"^' ™'l 
mto a naradess horror I can har'cHv h "''?" ""-■ <'«!»"'' 

intertwisted chain of feel n«" and al""^'-' •"°"''"8 l'"' 'h* 

•im de,K.ndent on, and nourish^H h l^""!!'' '^"^ *" ''» 

fct.ons. Those will go » """"'''«='' by, the banished recol- 

aw" " ■■' ^° "->"" -id the haunted man. reflecting i„ 

^Z'S' lrwi^ri,rr d° ai":,!"™"^' "■ "- «-• - 

■tvp ving y,, „ returned the Ph^mo": °' 'r'"i',"«'"- ■" "-e 
" In nothing else ? " ^Iwntom scornfully. 

The Phantom held its peace. 

n^an, "that I have '^le^tlen \\T"^V "'^' ^^^ ^^''^^^^ 
^'norose, indifferent, or hard to onv^? ""^ "^>' ^'"^> "^'^er 
i'vng here alone, I have made t-n ^ IT^/''^""'^ "^*'^- ^f* 
m.ght have been and LTttl' of I.T^ °k''' ^!^^^ ^^^ ^"d 
has fallen on me, and not on o l '' ^^' ' ' ^ ^'''^^^' 
,poison in my body should T. ^'''^' ^^"^ '^ there were 
.knowledge h'ow tJ'use t tL " 'e tCfrlr"^^"^'^"'- ^"^ 
'n my mind, and through This felZ .u ^ r''" ^" f^°'^«" 
out, shall I not cast it out?" "^ '^^"^^^ ^ ^ cast it 

J Sa>V' said the Spectre, - is it done ? " 
A moment longer.-" he answered^Lmedly. .^.^ 




Vv-^ 



nmp 



MICROCOPY RESOLUTION TEST CHART 

(ANSI '■nd ISO TEST CHART No. 2) 



1.0 



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1 4.5 
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140 



1.4 



1 2.5 
2.2 

2.0 
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A /APPLIED IN/MGE Inc 

S:^. 1653 East Main Street 

^S Rochester. New York 14609 USA 

— — (716) 482 - 0300 - Phone 

^= (716) 288 - 5989 - Fax 



^ 



278 THE HAUNTED MAN 

forget it if I could I Have / thought that alone, or has it 
been the thought of thousands upon thousands, generation 
after generation? All human memory is fraught with sor- 
row and trouble. My memory is as the memory of other 
men, but other men have not this choice. Yes, I close 
the bargain. Yes ! I will forget my sorrow, wrong, and 
trouble ! " 

" Say," said the Spectre, " is it done ? " 

" It is ! " 

" It is. And take this with you, man whom I here re- 
nounce ! The gift that I have given, you shall give again, 
go where you will. Without recovering yourself the power 
that you have yielded up, you shall henceforth destroy its 
like in all whom you approach. Your wisdom has discovered 
that the memory of sorrow, wrong, and trouble is the lot of 
all mankipd ; and that mankind would be the happier, in its 
other memories, without it. Go ! Be its benefactor ! Freed 
from such remembrance, from this hour carry involuntarily 
the blessing of such freedom with you. Its difiusion is in- 
separable and inalienable from you. Go ! Be happy in the 
good you have won, and in the good you do ! " 

The Phantom — which had held its bloodless hand above 
him while it spoke, as if in some unholy invocation, or some 
ban ; and which had gradually advanced its eyes so close to 
his, that he could see how they did not participate in the 
terrible smile upon its face, but were a fixed, unalterable, 
steady horror — melted from before him, and was gone. 

As he stood rooted to the spot, possessed by fear and 
wonder, and imagining he heard repeated in melancholy 
echoes, dying away fainter and fainter, the words, '* Destroy 
its like in all whom you approach ! " a shrill cry reached his 
ears. It came, not from the passages beyond the door, but 
from another part of the old building, and sounded like the 
cry of some one in the dark who had lost the way. 

He looked confusedly upon his hands and limbs, as if to 
be assured of his identity, and then shouted in reply, loudly 
and wildly ; for there was a strangeness and terror upon him, 
as if he too were lost. 

The cry responding, and being nearer, he caught up the 
lamp, and raised a heavy curtain in the wall, by which he 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 270 

was accustomed to pass into and out of the theatre where 
he lectured, which adjoined his room. Assockted wlh 
youth and animation, and a high amphithStrT o^ feces 
which his entrance charmed to interest in T moment i" 

"mTt i,!,t "i,''*"''-^.r ::'-°"'=hed down in a cornS 
What is It?" he said hastily. 

He might have asked, "What is it?" even had he seen 
:t well, as presently he did, when he stood looking at it 
gathered up m its corner. ^ ' 

form^a^mos't VtT%^'u '''^''^'' ^.y a hand, in size and 

ZTchThJVf "^ ^"i' f ''' S'^'^y' ^^^P^^^te little 
Clutch, a bad old man's. A face rounded and smoothed 

bv some half-dozen years, but pinched and twLd bv the 
experiences of a life. Bright eyes, but not youthful Naked 
feet, beautiful m their childish delicacy-ugly in the blood 
and dirt that cracked upon them. A baby savage a voun^ 
monster, a child who had never been a child, a cfeature who 
might live to ^ke the outward form of man, but who within 
would live and perish a mere beast ' ' 

Used already to be worried and hunted like a beast the 
boy crouched down as he was looked at, and looked back 
S: "' ^"''^"'' "'^ ^^"^ ^^ ^-^d'off the expected 

" ill bite," he said, " if you hit me ! " 

such a St K^^fh^' u^u"°' "'^"y "^'""^^^ «''"^e' ^hen 
Rpln Jt -^ '''°"^'^ ^^^^ ^'■""g the Chemist's heart 

He looked upon it now coldly ; but, with a heavy effort to 
remember something-he did not kniw what-he asked the 
boy what he did there, and whence he came. 

womi '''" ' ''°"''" • " ^" ''^^''^- " I ^^"t to find the 
"Who?" 



the large fire. She was so long gone, that I 



went to look 



28o 



THE HAUNTED MAN 




for her, and lost myself. I don't want you. I want the 
woman," 

He made a spring, so suddenly, to get away, that the dull 
sound of his naked feet upon the floor was near the curtain 
when Redlaw caught him by his rags. ' 

"Come! you let me go'" muttered the boy, struggling 
and clenching his teeth. " I've done nothing to you. Let 
me go, will you, to the woman ? " 

" That is not the way. There is a nearer one," said Red- 
law, detaining him, in the same blank effort to remember 
some association that ought, of right, to bear upon this 
monstrous object. " What is your name ? " 

"Got none." 

" Where do you live ? " 

"Live! What's that?" 

The boy shook his hair from his eyes to look at him for a 
moment, and then, twisting round his legs and wrestling with 
him, broke again into his repetition of, " You let me go, will 
you ? I want to find the woman." 

The Chemist led him to the door. "This way," he said, 
looking at him still confusedly, but with repugnance and avoid- 
ance growing out of his coldness. " I'll take you to her." 

The sharp eyes in the child's head, wandering round the 
room, lighted on the table where the remnants of the dinner 
were. 

" Give me some of that I " he said covetously. 
" Has she not fed you ? " 

"I shall be hungry again to-morrow, shan't I? Ain't I 
hungry every day ? " 

Finding himself released, he bounded at the table like 
sorne small animal of prey, and hugging to his breast bread 
and meat, and his own rags, all together, said, — 

" There ! Now take me to the woman I " 

As the Chemist, with a new-bom dislike to touch him, 
sternly motioned him to follow, and was going out of the 
door, he trembled and stopped. 

"The gift that I have given, you shall give again, co 
where you will! " 6 6.6 

The Phantom's words were blowing in the wind, and the 
wind blew chill upon him. 



A^D THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ggf 

Ihe woman's fire?" inquired the boy. ' 
Me nodded, and the n^l^prl f^^t u^ i 
came back with his lamn i^i A^ , 'P''™8 "^y- He 

frightened al htoS. ' '"'"^ ""^ ^'''^'^ '"'" °« «!'" was 
for now he wa^ indeed, alone. Alone, alone I 



CHAPTER II. 

THE GIFT DIFFUSED. 

iar^ho^^hv''" ''" I,'""" P^''°"'' partitioned off from a 
Saps o°LwL.crr i^T" "'""'■.''' "'" ""^ ""all 

.ed sphere or a^^^ch- t^p-nfeS^l^^^j™, 
cystiT-shell wallTn r^ «™ Id was the construction of an 

a^: V on' whi:^"f<;^ifi\:. r* ''tr s:tjT)' i' "^"^^^ 



£32 



THE HAUNTED MAN 
small objects, iiioffensive in themselves, though of a hard 
substance considered as missiles, at the disturbers of his 
repose— who were not slow to return these compliments. 

Besides which, another little boy— the biggest there, but 
still httlt was tottering to and fro, bent on one side, and 
considera .y affected in his knees by the weight of a large 
baby, which he was supposed, by a fiction that obtains some- 
times m sanguine families, to be hushing to sleep. But oh ' 
the mexhaustible regions of contemplation and watchful- 
ness into which this baby's eyes were then only beginning 
to compose themselves to stare, over his unconscious 
shoulder ! 

It was a very Moloch of a baby, on whose insatiate altar 
the whole existence of this particular young brother was 
offered up a daily sacrifice. Its personality may be said to 
have consisted in its never being quiet, in any one place, for 
five consecutive minutes, and never going to sleep when 
required. " Tetter by's baby" was as well known in the 
neighbourhood as the postman or the pot-boy. It roved 
from doorstep to doorstep, in the arms of little Johnny 
letterby, and lagged heavily at the rear of troops of juveniles 
who followed the Tumblers or the Monkey, and came up, 
a 1 on one side, a little too late for everything that was 
attractive, frorn Monday morning until Saturday night. 
Wherever childhood congregated to play, there was little 
i...oloch making Johnny fag and toil. Wherever Johnny 
desired to stay, little Moloch became fractious, and would 
not remain. Whenever johnny wanted to go out, Moloch 
was asleep and must be watched. Whenever Johnny wanted 
to stay at home, Moloch was awake, and must be taken out. 
/et Johnny was verily persuaded that it was a faultless baby, , 
svithout Its peer m the renim of England, and was quite con- 
•ent to catch meek glimpses of things in general from behind 
Its skirts, or over its limp flapi)ing bonnet, and to go stagger- 
ing about with it like a very little porter with a very large 
parcel which was not directed to anybody, and could never 
br^ delivered anywhere. 

The small man who sat in the small parlour, making fruit- 
less attempts to read his newspaper peaceably in the midst 
of tnis disturbance, was the father of the family, and the 



.V r . u ^^^ '^^^ ^"^^^'S BARGAIN. gg, 

Chief of the firm descrihpH in fh^ • ^ 

shop front, by tl,e name a J .He oTa'T'"" °™' "■« ■"«« 
NEWSMEN, indeed, «ric"ly speak^g^ hi wIT'thl nT ^°- 
sonage answer ng to that H^i;^ *• ^ *"^ *^"^y Per- 

poetfcal abstraction alttetherS^^'/H ^^^ ""^ ^ "^^^« 

Tetterby's was thrcorner «h!f ^ f "^ ''"P^'''°"^'- 
There was\ g^od sLw of ] tett^.j"^ Jf "^^^^^ 
consisting of picture-newspaperr^ '^^'^y 

pirates, and footpads. WalkinrLvi.c r? - ^' ^"^ ^^"^ 
were included in^he stocSdf I hid ''' '"^ "^''^''^ 
.nto the hght confectioner,^ 1 ie buf it wn M ' "'^""^^^ 
those elegancies of life werp no?1n ^ /"l'^"^ '^^"^ t^t 
Buildings? for nothing conneaedwh^^^^^^^^ f out Jerusalem 
merce remained in the window .v?. ' ^'^'"'^^ °^ co'"' 
lantern containing a Ian^,?i.h' "^^^^ ^/'^'"^ °^ ^"^^" g'ass 
had melted in "he^LmerTnd^ "^'1 ^^- ^""'^-^y^s. which 
all hope of ever gettSg 'hem ourr'f '" '^\^''"^^^' ""^^1 
eating7he lantern o^^il 'r°' of eating them without 

tried its hand at sev^iThLr'rf'l' T'- '^^"^^^^'^ had 
Httle dart at the oX nts^^or .n^ ""T T^^ ^ ^^^^le 
was a heap of minute wax dolls .11 crT^'^^' '^"'^'■"' ^^ere 
down, in the direst confusfon 1 ii, I' '''r'"^ *°S^^h^^ "Pside 
heads and a precipTJte o^^^ h, V^"'' ^""' °" °"^ ^"°th^r's 
bottoi. It had mTdfa ^f^^^'^^^V^'-"'^ and legs at the 

which a few dry wTrv bonn^r '" '^' "^'"^'""'^ ^'^^^^ion, 
the window to attls?^ It h.H f ^^ VT^'"*"^^ '" ^ ^^'•"er o 
hidden in the tobacco trlde an'd h'n ' '"^" ^'^^"^ "^'^^^ ^^^ 
tion of a riative of each of tC .^^ ^ "P ^ representa- 

British empire in the arfnf ^^^ •"'"^'"^^ P°^^'°"« of the 
with a poeSrieLd .f^f >, /•"'"'"'"^ '^^' ^^^g*-^"* ^eed, 
cause tW sa Tnd ,S^f' ''"Po^t'"! that united in one 

snuff, one^smokeS but nithrnl '^'^'"^. '°^'"^°' °"^ ^^^k 
it-^ -cent flier TJr^uSu"^ '^^'"^^ to have come of 

trust inTr^i^tive iewSfer;^^^^^^^ '' ^f P"^ ^ ^-^o- 

a card of cheap sifs InH J .^^ PJ'"^ °^g'^^^ there was 
mysterious SkTriulet of in ^mP^^^ ^^^^«' ^<J ^ 
ninepence. But to that hour T '", ''''T^'' ^^^^^^'^ 
bought none of then In short T^frr''? I""^^'^^^ ^^^ 
to get a livelihood out o^eru^illm S ^'^' '"'^ '° ^"^^ 
Otn., and appeared to ^^^^.^Sl^^^J^ 



'HI 



« 

'IS 

■It 



t 



ii 



284 THE HAUNTED MAN 

the best position in the firm was too evidently Co.'s ; Co., a? 
a bodiless creation, being untroubled with the vulgar incon- 
veniences of hunger and thirst, being chargeable neither u< 
the poor's-rcttes nor the assessed taxes, and having no young 
family to provide for. 

Tetterby himself, however, in his little parlour, as alreadv 
mentioned, having the presence of a young family impressed 
upon his mind in a manner too clamorous to be disregarded, 
or to comport with the quiet perusal of a newspaper, laid 
down his paper; wheeled, in his distraction, a few times 
round the parlour, like an undecided carrier-pigeon ; made 
an ineffectual rush at one or two flying little figures in bed- 
gowns that skimmed past him ; and then, bearing suddenly 
down upon the only unoffending member of the family, 
boxed the ears of little Moloch's nurse. 

"You bad boy!" said Mr. Tetterby, "haven't you any 
feeling for your poor father after the fatigues and anxieties of 
a hard winter's day, since five o'clock in the morning, but 
must you wither his rest, and corrode his latest intelligence, 
with your wicious tricks? Isn't it enough, sir, that your 
brother 'Dolphus is toiling and moiling in the fog and cold, 
and you rolling in the lap of luxury vith a— with a bah)\ 
and everythink you can wish for," said Mr. Tetterby, heai)ing 
this up as a great climax of blessings ; " but must you make 
a wilderness of home, and maniacs of your parents ? Must 
you, Johnny? Hey?" At each interrogation, Mr. Tetterby 
made a feint of boxing his ears again, but thought better of 
it, and held his hand. 

" Oh, father ! " whimpered Johnny, " when I wasn't doing 
anything, I'm sure, but taking such care of Sally, and getting 
her to sleep. Oh, father ! " 

" I wish my little woman would come home ! " said Mr. 
Tetterby, relenting and repenting; "I only wish my little 
woman would come home ! I ain't fit to deal with 'em. 
They make my head go round, and get the better of me. 
Oh, Johnny ! Isn't it enough that your dear mother has 
provided you wi^h that sweet sister?" indicating Moloch; 
" isn't it enough that you were .' ven boys before, without a 
ray of gal, and that your dear mother went through what she 
iitd go through, on purpose that you might all of you have a 



em. 

mu. 
r has 
loch ; 
Dut a 
t she 
ive a 



I 1„> •. /"" ™= ""OST.. BARGAIN. ,^. 

lead S j..'"' "■"^' ^- » behave yoursOf a, to .ake „,; 

.ho^/':?'hTs rn-:i:eS"l„"C;e"wotd°™ '^r".^-'-^» and 
I cludc-d by emhrarin<r h:„ j^ 1°"' ^'- Tettt-rhy con- 

catch on^ of thT 2l deZ "ttirl"''''*' '"7^'''« *'">' '° 
I occurring, he succeed^ after a \hlTr">' «°<"' '^" 
I some rathi r severe cros^ rn ,n,,f T 5 ^"""^ "">> ""d 
I bedsteads, and in and omTonZth '^ ''"''^''' """ °^-'^^'- ">« 
I <n capturing this "nfant wl^^V ""-""^"^^ "f 'he chairs, 
I bore io bed Thi; examn e hL ™"''"f " ^ P^'^h"^* ""d 

I mesmeric, influence on Zm of fhe h°„nf "'•.""'' ''PP"'™"^ 
I into a deep sleen th™,„K v. "' "l^boots, who instantly fell 

I fore, bro^S awake and in th^^'^T' ''"' " ■"<""<="' ^e- 
I Nor was it lost umn the two v^ l-.ghest possible feather. 
I to bed, in an i^joininV elo T fvi?^"^""' ^^° ''''^^'^ 
I speed. The comrade of the In, }\ gf-""' P"'''":^ ""d 

I into his nest with stailar dLret^r^Mf ?",'; ^',!° '"'['"'^'"S 
I paused for breath found hinf/lf ' Tetterby, when he 
I peace. ' "'' ^"""^^ unexpectedly in a scene of 

I fluSfec^Cirha^X hCvf^ "": ?"^^''>' -Pi"g l'- 
my httle woman hi'd S'^ l^^ ll'Lt'd ■' ' ' °""' "•'^'' 

pri«e t^ f fm;°,^t'dTt:;„''Lr^t';/°t^^^^^^^^^ ^PP- 

occasion, and rea^ the fol^L '*"'*""' '"'""' "" *e 
,..d ;iar4"birm°otr, t^^ fcL^IL"^^" T 

m:th^,tTb^/SrMr Sr^^f-Tr ^^^^^^^^ 

"hile she i^ stTimo^g ^^r' "^'' ^"^ '""^ '"^ ^a'"<= 
4:.nrf5» ■:,'>L^^„^^^^^^^^^ «- and composed 

■ again "saMT«,V '^°"'' ''^^^ "^o it is, get out of bed 
a ver'y s^ft he» !h '^^ "' ^ S""*^'^' proclamation, delivered in 

K>rt1™ of^h^aTrStcTrc^ntX^^^^^^^ '^ ?"" 

Mr. Tetterbv selertpH , "-™',«™Porary ! —which expression 

take carfof ^our only sktrr'%X"fo "{"^"t r.*"<^' 
Kem that ever VrkleTony^Sre^l^'btw!-'"^ ** ""Shtes, 



286 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



'• 



Johnny sat down on a little stool, and devotedly crushed 
himself beneath the weight of Moloch. 

"Ah, what a gift that baby is to yon "'-hnny !" said his 
father, "and how thankful you ought *It is not 

generally known,' Johnny" — he was now reierring to the 
screen again — " * but it is a fact ao. ertaine ' by accurate 
calculations, that the following immense percentage of babies 
never attain to two years old ; that is to say ' " 

" Oh, tlon't, father, please ! " cried Johnny. " I can't bear 
it, when I think of Sally." 

Mr. Tetterby desisting, Johnny, with a profounder sense 
of his trust, wiped his eyes, and hushed his sister. 

"Your brother 'Dolphus," said his father, poking the fire, 
" is late to-ni-ht, Johnny, and will come home like a lump of 
ice. What's got your precious mother ? " 

"Here's mother and 'Dolphus too, father!" exclaimed 
Johnny, " I *hink." 

"^/ou're right!" returned his father, listening. "Yes, 
that's the footstep of my litde woman." 

The process of induction; by wl\ich Mr. Tetterby had 
come to the conclusion that his wife was a little woman, was 
his own secret. She would have made two editions of him- 
self very easily. Considered as an individual, she was rather 
remarkable for being robust and portly ; but considered with 
reference to her husband, her dimensions became magnificent 
Nor did they assume a less imposing pro^ ••tion, when 
stud'ed with reference to the size of her seven sons, who 
were but diminutive. In the case of Sally, however, Mrs. 
Tetterby had asserted herself at last ; as nobody knew better i 
than the victim Johnny, who weighed and measured that " 
exacting idc' every hour in the day. 

Mrs. Tetterby, who had been marketing, and carried a 
ba.ket, threw back her bonnet and shawl, and sitting do^vn, 
fatigued, commanded Johnny to bring his sweet charge to 
her straightway, for a kiss. Johnny having complied, and 
gone back to his stool, and again crushed himself. Master 
Adolphus Tetterby, who had by this time unwound his torso 
out of a prismatic comforter, apparently interminable, re 
quested the same favour. Johnny having again complied, 
and again gone back to his stool, and again crushed himself, 



■ushed 

id his 
is not 

tho 
curate 
babies 

t bear 

sense 

e fire, 
mp of 

limed 

"Yes, 

r had 

1, was 
" him- 
rather 

1 with 
icenL 
when 
, who 

Mrs. 
better 
i that 

led a 
io^vn, 
ge to 
, and 
[aster 
torso 

2, re 
plied, 
nself, 






AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. .^7 

.^L'cKnr^^p^^tf " ^^^^^^^^ P^^^^^ the 
this third desire completerexhans?^^ Vk *"* .^^'^faction of 
hardly breath enouj^^lSt toloX u .^u"^" '^^■"' ^^^ ^^<^ 
seir4ain, and punt'at^^ht rXfoSr' ^" ''^ ^^°°'' ^"^^'^ ^-- 

her h'lat'ukrca'^^^^^^^^^^ "'^ ^- -^^^-by. shaking 
the face igain/^ ^''' ^^ ""^^^ ^°°k ^^^r mother in 

;;Nor your brother," said Adolphus. 
Nor your father, Johnny," added Mr Tettr-rKv 

right so fa, and "kiffdy^tt dXVurk^ltci'''^ *'" "" 
mos>>. and rocked her «Hth his foot ^ ^ "PP*'- 

and&ri»^^';ffi 

dowpi;fht^ij„^,t'^;aSvi^tr,"^i s'th'-i -T'^ 

my face shine much, father?" ^ ' " ' t^'"^' ^^^S 

"^'S\e t4tt' Sr'^^sa'Tlar M^"-^^' 
cheeks on the worn 'sleeve Sf hTslcket ^ .";vh^°^''^l"^ ^'^ 
and sleet, and wind, and snow and w mvV '^^ '^i"' 
brought out into a rash 50^^^. a ^^ J^''^ ^*^^' ^"^^^ 
oh, don't it, though '" '°^^^"«es- And shmes, it does- 

^"ru paper, and substitutim^ in its sff^rl of ^.-a- I 
periods of the dav all tko iu , °' ^^ different 

i' us 01 me day, all the other vowels in grammatical 

io 






3»8 



THE IIArNTED MAN 



succession. Thus, before daylight in the winter-time, he 
went to and fro, in his little clskin cap and cape, and his 
big comforter, piercing the ht'a\7 air with his cry of " Morn- 
ing Pa-per ! " which, about an hour before noon, changed 
to •• Morr-ing Pep-pcr ! " which, at about two, -hanged to 
" Morn-ing Pip-per 1 " which, in a couple of hours, changed 
to '* Morn-ing Pop-per ! ' and so declined with the sun into 
*' Evening Pup-per ! " to the great relief and comfort of this 
young gentleman's spirits. 

Mrs. Tetterbv, his lady-mother, who had been sitting with 
her bonnet and shawl thrown back, as afoiesaid, thoughtfully 
turning her wedding ring round and round upon her finger, 
now rose, and divesting herself of her out-of-door attire, 
began to lay the cloth for supper. 

" Ah, dear me, dear me, dear me ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 
" That's the way the v;orld goes ! " 

" Which is the way the world goes, my dear ? " asked Mr. 
Tetterby, looking round. 

"Oh, nothing," said Mrs. Tetter l^. 

Mr. Tetterby elevated his eyebrows, folded his newspaper 
afresh, and carried his eyes up it, and down it, and across it, 
but was wandering in his attention, and not reading it. 

Mrs. Tetterby, at the same time, laid the cloth, but rather 
as if she were punishing the table than preparing the family 
supper — hitting it unnecessarily hard with the knives and 
forks, slapping it with the plates, dinting it with the salt- 
cellar, and coming heavily dov upon it with the loaf. 

"Ah, dear me, dear '.le, uear me!" said Mrs. Tetterby. 
" That's the way the world goes ! " 

" My duck," returned her husband, looking round again, 
" you said that before. Which is the way the world goes ? " 

" Oh, nothing ! " said Mrs. Tetterby. 

"Sophia!" remonstrated her husband, "you said that 
before, too." 

" Well, I'll say it again if you like," returned Mrs. Tetterby. 
" Oh, nothing — there ! And again if you like, Oh, nothing 
— there 1 And again if you like, Oh, nothing — now then ! " 

Mr. Tetterby brought his eye to bear upon the partner of 
his bosom, and said, in mild astonishment, — 

" My little woman, what has put you out ? * 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 289 

" I'm surr / don't know," .she retorted. "Don't a.sk mc 
U no sajd I u-as put out at all ? / never did." 

h.H inir'"'';J J" P^ "P,^^"' P^'^"'*^^ "^ '"-^ newspaper as u 
ad JO), and akmg a slow walk across the room, with h s 
!mnds behind him and hi. shoulders raised-his ga t accord 
|ng perfectly .uh the resignation of his mannerladdreTsc^^^ 
himse.f to his two cKiest oflspring «uurey>sta 

Mr^l^on rT^'^'^uV^^ ^ '""^^y '" ^ """"te. 'Dolphus," said 
Mr. Ic terby. "Your mother las been out in he wct o 

hO to do. you ahall get some supjjer too, very soon, Fohnnv 

tiv7tn"n^''' pleased wit' you. my man fo7bemg si a" :- 
tive to your precious sister." 

Mrs. Tetterby, without any remark, but with a decuieH 
subsidence of h^r animosity towards the tabirf.nlshed hcT 

covered wh^.'"^''''^'^"^','''"^^^^."^ '" P^P^'^' ^"^ ^ ^asin 
covered vsith a saucer, which, on being uncovered, sent forth 

n odour so agreeable, that the three pair of eyes in the two 
beds openexl wide and fixed themselves upon^he banquet 

;i;J .f ?'• ''''^°"' 'T'^'''^ '^'' ^^^'^ '"Citation t2 be 
seated, stood repeating slowly, "Yes, yes, your supper w^ 

be ready m a minute, 'Dolphus. Your mother wen out n 
he wet, to the cook's shop, to buy it. It was ven «o<^ 
ot your .nothcr so to do "-until Mrs. tterby, who^S 
been exhibiting sundry tokens of cont> on behind him 
caught him round the neck, and wept ' 

and beha?et'"''' "^' ^''- '''^"^^^^^ "h^' -"^^ I S- 

This reconciliation affected Adolphus the younger and 

Johnny to that degree, that they both, as with one^ccord 

raised a dismal cry, which had the effect of ir^medTatd; 

hutting up the round eyes in the beds, and utterly rS 

he two remaining little Tetterbys, just then steahng in from 

the^ adjoining closet to see what was going on in the eating 

S^ ^t"IT^' '^°^P^"s,» sobbed Mrs. Tetterby, "comine 
home, I had no more idea than a child unborn—" ^ 

Mr. Tetterby seemed to dislike 'lis figure of speech and 
observed, - bay than the baby, my dear." ^ ' 



III! 



h 



290 THE HAUNTED MAN 

I' Had no more idea than the baby," said Mrs. Tetterby. 
—"Johnny, don't look at me, but look at her, or she'll fall 
out of your lap and be killed, and then you'll die in agonies. 
of a broken heart, and serve you right— No more idea I 
hadn't than that darling, of being cross when I came home • 

but somehow, 'Dolphus " Mrs. Tetterby paused, and 

agam turned her wedding ring round and round upon her 
finger. 

" I see ! " said Mr. Tetterby. " I understand ! My little 
woman was put out Hard times, ar^ hard weather, and 
hard work, make it trying now and then. I see, bless your 
soul ! No wonder ! 'Dolf, my man," continued Mr. Tetter- 
by, exploring the basin with a fork, " here's your mother been 
and bought, at the cook's shop, besides pease-pudding, a 
whole knuckle of a lovely roast leg of pork, with lots c; 
cracking left upon it, and with seasoning gravy and mustard 
quite unlimited. Hand in your plate, my boy, and bet^in 
while it's simmering." 

Master Adolphus, needing no second summons, received 
his portion with eyes rendered moist by appetite, and with- 
drawing to his particular stool, fell upon his supper tooth 
and nail. Johnny was not forgotten, but received his rations 
on bread, lest he should, in a flush of gravy, trickle any on 
the baby. He was required, for similar reasons, to keep his 
pudding, when not on active service, in his pocket. 

There might have been more pork on the knuckle-bone 
— which knuckle- bone the carver at the cook's shop had 
assuredly not forgotten in carving for previous customers - 
but there was no stint of seasoning, and that is an accessory 
dreamily suggesting pork, and pleasantly cheating the sense 
of taste. The pease-pudding, too, the gravy and mustard, 
like the Eastern rose in respect of the nightingale, if they 
were not absolutely pork, had lived near it ; so, upon the 
wnole, there was the flavour of a middle-sized pig. It was 
irresistible to the Tetterbys in bed, who, though professing 
to slumber peacefully, crawled out when unseen by their 
parents, and silently appealed to their brothers for any 
gastronomic token of fraternal affection. They, not hard of 
heart, presenting scraps in return, it resulted that a parly 
of light skirmishers in night-gowns were careering about the 






AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ggi 

laughed without reason%IdlTa*„:Cle^r:ri:d:l' 
out reason; and at last she laughed and cried to^ett^rtn" 

LTdT " ""^' "---"-"^ 'hat her husband C"o" 
"My littie woman," said Mr Tetterhv 'i;f tu u 

dent ol^r^lt^^/o^cfi^h;' :l^ Trjf'r"^ rt 

taXeSdlot" ,""'', ^'' ■'^"^=' conneetions,Td TcXd- 
Aft^r 1 „ h« Stool again, and crushed himself as before 

be^/n'o'la^gT """• "^"""^ ^"■'' ^^^ "^ "^"^ "-' »d 

vn,'/^^^%'""^ woman," said her husband dubiously "are 

Krout"^ /SSo'n^^^ '- ^- ^"■'''- ^''- 
\Vil^?A ?°'P^V^' "p'" replied his wife. " I'm quite myself 

said Mr'.' tT^'k^ ^°?l^^ ''^'' '^ ^^ink so for a moment'" 

l.M^k'/^"?'"^^ bringing his chair closer, Mrs fetterbv 
laughed again, gave him a hug, and wiped her e/^ ^ 



m 



292 THE HAUNTED MAN 

"You know, 'Dolphus, my dear," said Mrs. Tctterby, 
"that when I was single, I might have given myself away 
in several directions. At one time, four after me at once; 
two of them were sons of Mars." 

"We're all sons of Ma's, my dear," said Mr. Tetterby, 
''jointly with Pa's." 

" I don't mean that," replied his wife ; " I mean soldiers — 
sergeants." 

" Oh ! " said Mr. Tetterby. 

"Well, 'Dolphus, I'm sure I never think of such things 
now, to regret them ; and I'm sure I've got as good a husband, 
and would do as much to prove that I was fond of him, 
as " 

"As any little woman in the world," said Mr. Tetterby. 
" Very gpod. Fery good." 

If Mr. Tetterby had been ten feet high, he could not have 
expressed a gentler consideration for Mrs. Tetterby's fairy- 
like stature ; and if Mrs. Tetterby had been two feet high, 
she could not have felt it more appropriately her due. 

"But you see, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby, "this being 
Christmas-time, when all people who can, make holiday, and 
when all people who have got money like to spend some, 
I did, somehow, get a little out of sorts when I was in the 
streets just now. There were so many things to be sold — 
such delicious things to eat, such fine things to look at, such 
delightful things to have — and there was so much calculating 
and calculating necessary, before I durst lay out a sixpence 
for the commonest thing ; and the basket was so large, and 
wanted so much in it ; and my stock of money was so small, 
and would go such a little way ; — you hate me, don't you, 
'Dolphus?" 

"Not quite," said Mr. Tetterby, "as yet." 

"Well, I'll tell you the whole truth," pursued his wife 
penitently, "and then perhaps you will. I felt all this so 
much, when I was trudging about in the cold, and v/ben I 
saw a lot of other calculating faces and large baskets trudging 
about too, that I began to think whether I mightn't have 

done better, and been happier, if — I — hadn't " The 

wedding ring went round again, and Mrs. Tetterby shook 
her downcast head as she turned \* 



293 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 

"I see," said her husband quietly : " if you hadn't married 
at all, or it you had married somebody else ? " 

" Yes," sobbed Mrs. Tetterby ; " that's really what I thought. 
Do you hate me now, 'Dolphus ? " 

"Why, no," said Mr. Tetterby; "I don't find that I do, 
as yet. 

Mrs Tetterby gave him a thankful kiss, and went on. 
1 begin to hope you won't now, 'Dolphus, though I am 
afraid I haven t told you the worst. I can't think what came 
over me. I don't know whether I was ill, or mad, or what 
1 was, but I couldn't call up anything that seemed to bind 
us to each other, or to reconcile me to my fortune. All the 
pleasures and enjoyments we had ever had— //^o' seemed so 
poor and insignificant, I hated them. I could have trodden 
on them. And I could think of nothing else, except our 
!r?,.P!f "■' ^""^ ^^^ number of mouths there were at home » 
Well well, my dear," said Mr. Tetterby, shaking her 
hand encouragingly, "that's truth, after all. We are noor 
and there are a number of mouths at home here " ' 

"Ah! but, Dolf, Dolf!" cried his wife, laying her hands 
upon his neck, "my good, kind, patient fellow, when I had 
been at home a very little while— how different ! Oh Dolf 
dear how different it was ! I felt as if there was a rush of 
recollection on me, all at once, that softened my hard heart 
and filled it up till it was bursting. All our struggles for a 
livelihood, all our cares and wants since we have been married 
all the times of sickness, all the hours of watching, we have 
ever had by one another, or by the children, seemed to speak 
to me, and say that they had made us one, and that I never 
might have been, or could have been, or would have been 
any other than the wife and mother I am. Then the cheap 
enjoyments that I could have trodden on so cruelly, got to 
be so precious to me— oh, so priceless and dear !— that I 
couldn't bear to think how much I had wronged them ; and 
1 said, and say again a hundred times, how could I ever 
behave so, 'Dolphus? how could I ever have the heart to 
do It ? " 

The good woman, quite carried away by her honest tender^ 
ness and remorse, was weeping with all her heart, when she 
started up with a scream, and ran behind her husband. 



"I 






294 THE HAUNTED MAN 

Her cry was so terrified that the children started from their 
sleep and from their beds, and clung about her. Nor did 
her gaze belie her voice, as she pointed to a pale man in 
a black cloak who had come into the room. 

" Look at that man ! Look there ! What does he want > ' 
'My dear," returned her husband, "I'll ask him if you'll 
let me go. What's the matter ? ITow you shake ! " 

"^ saw him in the street, when I was out just now. He 
looked at me, and stood near me. I am afraid of hinj " 

" Afraid of him ! Why ? " 

" I don't know why— I— Stop, husband ! " for he was goinc 
towards the stranger. * ^ 

She had one hand pressed upon her forehead, and one 
upon her breast ; and there was a peculiar fluttering all over 
her, and a hurried unsteady motion of her eyes, as if she 
had lost something. 

"Are you ill, my dear?" 
^ "What is it that is going from me again?" she muttered, 
m a low voice. " What is this that is going away ? " 

Then she abruptly answered, " 111 ? No, I am quite 
well, and stood looking vacantly at the floor. 
_ Her husband, who had not been altogether free from the 
mfection of her fear at first, and whom the present stran-e- 
ness of her manner did not tend to reassure, addressed 
himself to the pale visitor m the black cloak, who stood still 
and whose eyes were bent upon the ground. 

^1 What may be your pleasure, sir," he asked, " with us > " 
^ I fear that my coming in unperceived," returned th.^ 
visitor, has alarmed you; but you were talking, and did 
not hear me." 

" My little woman says— perhaps you heard her say it," 
returned Mr. Tetterby-" that it's not the first time you have 
alarmed her to-night." 

" I am sorry for it I remember to have observed her in 
the street. I had no intention of frightening her." 

As he raised his eyes in speaking, she rais'ed hers. It was 
extraordinary to see what dread she had of him, and with 
what dread he observed it— and yet how narrow' 



closely 



My name," he said, "is Redlaw I 



v\y 



come from the old 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 20C 

JMr.penham?»saidTetterby. 

youll Ske thi. ,>Mf ' T' »°f 8°'"^' o"' into the cold ff 

"Yes I wish to see him," said the Chemist "C^r. 
spare a hght ? " '-nemist. Can you 

" vl^"^'' r^'^'.^' " '■" "8''' y°«' =i^. if you'l follow me " 

rathe "go :b„e'° taset g°v? me' .ITlghr^if ' ™""' 

spare it, and I'll find the way » * '' '^ ^°" """ 

In the quickness of his expression of this desire and in 

reLsf Withd'' f™-" '!'\"™^man, he touched S™ft" 
breast. Withdrawing his hand hastily, almost as though 1 

m Thill? V ^' ''""""' <'"' l^^ *d not k^owrwhac 
municLd or h^" T P"*"'' "•"'"<=<'• "' '■o" i' *as com! 
tZ"S aTcenrt T.r" "' '" "^'''''°" -"«»■ "^ 

down' TheM^f '■"'"''? 'r" '°f' ^^ ^'°PP^<' ^"d '°°1"-<J 
her rin^Tound InJ "5"'^'"''' '? «»e same place, twisting 
iicr nng round and round uoon her fino-f-r tk^ k u j 



loa 



296 



THE HAUNTED MAN 



i 



1 1 . 
1 1 ill ' 



I 



gazed timidly after the visitor, and nesded together when 
they saw him looking down. 

" Come I " said the father roughly. « There's enough of 
this. Get to bed here ! " 

" The place is inconvenient and small enough," the mother 
added, " without you. Get to bed ! " 

The whole brood, scared and sad, crept away — little 
Johnny and the baby lagging last. The mother, glancing 
contemptuously round the sordid room, and tossing from 
her the fragments of their meal, stopped on the threshold of 
her task of clearing the table, and sat down, pondering idly 
and dejectedly. The father betook himself to the chimney- 
comer, and impatiently raking the small fire together, bent 
over it as if he would monopolize it all. They did not inter- 
change a word. 

The Chemist, paler than before, stole upward like a thief, 
looking back upon the change below, and dreading equally 
to go on or return. 

"What have I done?" he said confusedly. "What am I 
going to do ? " 

"To be the benefactor of mankind," he thought he heard 
a voice reply. 

He looked round, but there was nothing there; and a 
passage now shutting out the little parlour from his view, he 
went on, directing his eyes before him at the way he went. 

" It is only since last night," he muttered gloomily, " that 
I have remained shut up, and yet all things are strange to 
me. I am strange to myself. I am here, as in a dream. 
What interest have I in this plac , or in any place that I can 
bring to my remembrance ? My mind has gone blind ! " 

There was a door before him, and he knocked at it. Being 
invited, by a voice within, to enter, he complied. 

" Is that my kind nurse ? " said the voice. " But I need 
not ask her. There is no one else to come here." 

It spoke cheerfully, though in a languid tone, and attracted 
his attention to a young man lying on a couch, drawn before 
the chimney-piece, with the back towards the door. A 
meagre, scanty stove, pinched and hollowed like a sick man's 
cheeks, and bricked into the centre of a hearth that it could 
scarcely warm, contained the fire, to which his face was 



AND THE GHOSTS BARGAIN. ,07 

dropped down fast ^ ' ^""^ ^^^ ^""""'"g ashes 

but purses. I shall hi. «,„ii = ? Pt' ™^ ""^ "°' ^^ns. 
pleas; God, andli 1 iL p" ham tn'l.'"' ^""1 ''^y- '' '' 
in remembrance of the kf„H«V ' . ''? ^ daughter Milly, 
m the world." "'^''" "'"""' """^ 'he gentlest heart 

be"| S" JneS.'hX'ilT IT'^ r*"-'^ '° '^''^ ''' •^"'. 
other hand, and did no^tuln'ro™!; '" '"" "^""8 "" '^■^ 

boJktn'dt^;Jrs'XlptT.a!'f ""'"-'" '"« ^'""^''^ 

•Ilness, and perhaps caused it IT I ^"""^ ^''^"'■*-^ *^'« 
health and freedom ^^TA.! \-f ^"^h. S'g"s of his old 

and the drawing of home at th.f^^^ the chimncy-piece, 
rerhaps, in some sort of hif r! ,''''" ''^ ^'^ emulation, 

frame? engravi^,^ ^ti:i:;:^t^'^::^r^r'^\;^' ^ 
been, only yesterday, when not one of thl'se nht • ^^^ 

"S;:&„tT„itt™^d-c^^^ 

-und with a dull wonder ' ^ '^"'^'^ ^^^^^"S 

"Mr. Redlaw!" he exclaimed, and started ud 
Kedlaw put out his arm. ^triea up. 

Don't come nearer to me I wHl c,v u^ r. 
'Ahere you are " ^'^ "^'■^* Remam you 

a. t T^ulrr staSglSntgt;?^' 1^,^ tZ' ''^'f 

"thrn \*''' '"■^ T^ -^'"^d'owirds 'he " „nr *' 
I heard, by an acc,dent-by what accident is^nollitter- 



298 THE HAUNTED MAN 

that one of my class was ill and solitary. I received no othet 
description of him than that he lived in this street. Begin- 
ning my inquiries at the first house in it, I have found him." 
"I have been ill, sir," returned the student, not merely 
with a modest hesitation, but with a kind of awe of him • 
" but am greatly better. An attack of fever— of the brain, I 
believe— has weakened me ; but I am much better. I cannot 
say I have been solitary in my illness, or I should forget the 
ministering hand that h; ^ been near me." 

'I You are speaking of the keeper's wife," said Redlaw. 
" Yes." The student bent his head, as if he rendered her 
some silent homage. 

The Chemist, in whom there was a cold, monotonous 
apathy, which rendered him more like a marl 'e image on 
the tomb of the man who had started from his dinner yester- 
day at the first mention of this student's case, than the 
breathing man himself, glanced again at the student leaning 
with his hand upon the couch, and looked upon the ground 
and in ihe air, as if for light for his blinded mind. 

"I remembered your name," he said, "when it was men- 
tioned to me downstairs just now, and I recollect your face 
We have held but very little personal communication to- 
gether ? " 

"Very little." 

"You have retired and withdrawn from me more than any 
of the rest, I think?" ^ 

The student signified assent. 

"And why?" said the Chemist, not with the least expres- 
sion of interest, but with a moody, wayward kind of curiositv 
"Why ? How comes it that you have sought to keep espe- 
cially from me the knowledge of your remaining here, at 
this season, when all the rest have dispersed, and of your 
being ill ? I want to know why this is ? " 

The young man, who had heard him with increasing 
agitation, raised his downcast eyes to his face, and clasping i 
his hands together, cried with sudden earnestness, and with 
trembling lips, — 

"Mr. Redlaw, you have discovered me! You know 
my secret ! " 

" Secret ? " said the Chemist harshly. " / know ? " 



AND THE GHOST'S RARCAlN. jOG 

.holerrTe?""'' ''«''^*' '''"S'^'"^- "^^W What are 

"d'^nott'T'' "^^''" ^""•'='""' 'h-' shrinking student 

do not let the mere intorchan.-e of a few worrk w,-.K ™, 

chanee you Ike this «;- i i .. i<-w uoras wjth me 

kno4-dge and notice' I r^,""' f"'' "^V" ''""^ >°""- 
distant pice a,":"r.ho^'Xryr in^irucl "S' ^^ 
oniy_byJ,he na^e 1 have assumed, Z n"of b^that^rLn^g! 

•^ I^ngford ! " exclaimed the other. 

He clasped his head with both his hands nn.l f^r 

beam of an instant, and it clouded as before 

man •« thTT ""^ k"'^'^^ ^'^'■'' ^''■'" ^^^'^'^^ the young 
man- the name she took, when she might, perhaps hav? 
taken one more honoured. Mr. Redlaw"-hesita?£-^< I 
mf JuessesTwt' ''^"^•- ''''''' "^>- -formS7halts 

las not proved itself a well-assorted or a happy one ^F on 

^S i''"2-'''''t '^"" ^P^^- °^ -'th hon'^^rTnd respec 
-with someth.ng that was almost revennr. I h a ^'e heard 
such devotion, of such fortitude and tend.rne s of such 
nsmg .p against the obstacles which press mJn down that 

ha's S'a'Tus'tre n""^ "^ '''''' '^^'^" from"my mot el 



4 



n 



M 



If 



300 THE HAUNTED MAN 

Redlaw, unmoved, unchanged. ;ind looking at him with a 
stanng frown, answered by no word or sign 

"I cannot say," pursued the other, "I should try in vain 
to say, how much it has impressed me, and affected me. tc 
find the gracious traces of the past in that certain power of 
wmnmg gratitude and confidence which is associated amonu 
us students (among the humblest o^ us most) wnh Mr Red 
law s generoas name. Our ages and positions are so different 
sir and I am so accustomed to regard you from a distance,' 
that 1 wonder at my own presumption when I touch, how- 
ever lightly, on that theme. But to one who-I may sav 
who felt no common intcest in my mother once, 't may be 
something to hear now that is all past, with what indescrib- 
able feelings of affection I have, in my obscurity, regarded 
him ; with what pam and reluctance I have kept aloof from 
his encouragement, when a word of it would have made mc- 
nch yet how I have felt it fit that I should hold my course, 
content to know him, and to be unknown. Mr. Redlaw " 
said the student faintly, "what I would have said, I hav.- 
said 111, for my strength is strange to me as yet ; but for an^•- 

ttTesTf^St'm" '' ''^ '^^"' °^ "^^"^' ^^^^^^^ -' -^ ^- ^'^ 
The staring frown remained on Redlaw's face, and yielded 

to no other expression until the student, with these words 

advanced towards him, as if to touch his hand, when he 

drew back and cried to him,— 
" Don't come nearer to me ! " 
The young man stopped, shocked by the eagerness of his 

his tnd th^' t'f T"""^ 5 ""}' ^^P"'^^-' ^"d he pass d 
his hand thoughtfully across his forehead 

brutJ.^^ ^^' 'f 1^'" '^'^c'-^ ^'^^""''- "It dies like the 
brutes. Who talks to me of its traces in my life ? He raves 

or lies ! What have I to do with your distempered dreams ^ 

is .TtT' T'^^y^^u'^ 't is. I came to offer it, and that 

here" h^^ ^"' /u*'?.-^^" ^^ "°^^'"g ^^'^ '^^' brings me 
I !; ^li?""^'^d' ^°^d'"^ ^'^ head ag^'n ^^'ith both hi. 
nands. l here mn be nothing else, and yet " 

He had tossed his purse upon the table. As he fell into 
this dim cogitation vith himself, the student took it up, and 
neld It out to bun. ^ 



AND THE O.IOsrs BAROAIN. ,<,, 

of your words and offer " ' remembrance 

"Youl??^" ^'' ^^"^^"^^' ^'^^ - ^'Id light in his eyes. 
"I do." 

in the face. ™ ""^^ '•"■' """• ""^ 'ookcd him 

1 he wondering student answered, " Yes " 

phyJcaSr;"t:;ir^^'.;"jarTr' •'" "" "t'-'" -f 

unearthly exultation '• AH L, r . ^^'^""^^ "i"' " «il<l, 

The student dM not al^ Luf". "-'•' '"" "'7 "°'' " 
confusedly across his foreh™H' p n''"'" P^''*-'^' '''» '"'"d 

gentleman with him fstherT?" ™"'fo"''ble too. A 

Redlaw .eleased his hold as he listened. 

» Of .n 1"°"^^'"^ ^^ '^^ ^oo'- again. 
ut alJ the visitors who could come hpm » h« . -^ • 
noarse, a armed voirp t„rr,;« "'\r"'"e "ere, he said, in a 

one I shouird'eJre' mo^To'r-i.'-^S'r -' "'''' '' '''' 

caJngtwttlelaTrttro'ofh" '""' T ''« ™»- "«""""!- 
with a smaU innS ^m S" '° '•°P^'°™'-d» 'he floor, 
shut it after him ' P"''^'' '" hastily, and 

The student then resumpH h ..„« 
called to her to enter, "^ "" "P°" *^^ ^°"^^^* ^"d 



30* THE HAUNTED MAN 

"Dear Mr. Edmund," said Milly, looking round, "thcv 
told me there was a gentleman here." 

••There is no one here but I." 

" Ther*" has been some one ? " 

"Yes ;s, there hos been some one." 

She put her little basket on the table, and went up to the 
back of the couch, as if to take the extended hand ; but it 
was not there. A little surprised, in her quiet way, she 

the"b?or^'' ^° '''' ""^ ^'^ '"^''^' """"^ ^''"^'^ ^°"^^*''^ ^'"^ '^^ 

"Are you q :ite as well to-night? Your head is not so 
cool as m the afternoon." 

••Tut 1 " said the student petulantly, "very little ails me " 
A httle more surprise, but no reproach, was expressed in 
her fact^ as she withdrew to the ether side of the table and 
took a small packet ot needlework from her basket. But 
she la.u It down agam, on second thoughts, and going noise- 
lessly about the room, set everything exactly in its place, and 
m the neatest order, even to the cushions on the couch 
which she touched with so light a hand that he hardlv 
seemed to know it, as he lay looking at the fire. When all 
this was done, and she had swept the hearth, she ?at down 
in her modest little bonnet, to her work, and was quietly 
busy on it directly. * ^ 

"■^r» ^^-^ '^^M, '""^''" *^"''^^'" ^or the window, Mr. Ed 
mund, said Milly, stitching away as she talked. " It will 
look very clean and nice, though it costs very little, and will 
save your eyes, too, from "xe light. My William says the 
room should not be too light just now, when you arc recover- 
ing so well, or the glare might make you giddy." i 

He said nothing ; but there was something so fretful and ' 
impatient in his change of position, that her quick fingers 
stopped, and she looked at him anxiously. 

"The pillows are not comfortable," she said, laying down 
her wo/k and nsing. " I will soon put them right." 

• 1 hey are very well," he answered. " Leave them alone, 
pray- You make so much of everything." 

He raised his head to say this, and looked at her so 
thanklessly that, after he had thrown himself down again, 
she stood timidly pausing. However, she resumed her seat, 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ,ot 

.he saying is^hl.'Xsi ; Jr^K^^X*' "^l^'"^ 
be more Dree ous to vm, nf» KV .,/'-'*^"<-r- rieallh will 

b«n. A?5^"°a s hcC wh en IhU 'r^' "^r"" " '"'^ "^™' 
round, and you remcmS; .h ^ u""""' ""^ >^'"' """^^ 

alone,' ,ha. T kno«Tdt .f^oS^Mn™ T '"^ 'T 'J,'^''' 
those who are dearf^t to w,. >°"'; "'"<-'^\ m. i not afflict 

and doubVwes Now ^n^ h": ^""^V"' ^^^' ^^^^'^ ^^^^ 
She was ton int r,? ' "?^ '^^^ a g"od, true thing?" 

she aid and t^ "^''" ^'^ ^°^^' '"^"^ ^^ ^'^^"e^t in what 
not wound her "fc™^^'"» K'-i'i't- fell harmless, and did 

heaUh, and I Lve rSd rvor^/"'"'"".'"' '°' ■'' '°*' "^ 
going'c^nf£7n.or' "'^- '°"-" '""■™'-'' '^-- - ^hc was 

have been interestpri i^ m S'r ?" sensible that you 
you. Vvr mS'tLld7ou''hf ve P ' '"" ""'^'' ""'^^-^ '° 



ni 



,i'i 



I 



f? 



3°4 THE HAUNTED MAN 

waSwToli'f °"-u'' ^"P' ^ ^^^ «till looked at hin 

and^E' "^ '" "^' ^" ^"^^^^^-^ -' -d stopping no^ 

" I say again, I am much obliged to vnn vvk„ ,. i 

dSher??" ^ '"PP°''= ' ^^"^ ^<^" dying a scoi ol 
"Do you believe, Mr. Edmund," she asked risin,, ,„j 

retuSed ^"T''hal"h*> ''•°."' "' "y 8°°^ creature," ho 

.udrt^r..^ -l^Ly^t,i^c?.ui^-:£"-^^^^ r. t^ 

of,.han .t mer.t.; and it's over, and we LTt pe'^emml 
He coldly took a book and sat doivn at the table 

.|^"a.s,s-- -trass 

;'Mr. Edmund, would you rather be alone?" 
^^^ There ts no reason why 1 should detain you here," he 

"OM fhZrrl "^''^.. 5*"'>'' '«==''tering, and showing her work 
•• Th?;;; nt ^oft'h sCytg^r J^^-^' ^"* '' ^"P^^"'- ^^■ 

bastt.■"Ttn",^S:cl'i'i^^C^r",:,»^ P- " in her 
^^T^ that he Wn^ot'-cwfbuttorarhe"' 

you are getting well, I „ay be troublesome to yo„bu, I 



^.;?t«r*: 






AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ,oe 

yourself more wS^f than ever v^fr/!?"' ^"^''■•oo"'. you do 

loud of tone as ke So,i",nH i ^ f '''^ ""^ 8«n"e. as 
sense of herdeirture fn ih/rol "■■• '*"= ""S*" '«'^<= '«« "o 
felUpon the .oV^lurtVheT^hT^Slt^f ">« "'^-- 

beetwTe^nSLtr^U":?^^'' P'-^ere she had 
to the door. "' °^ ^'^ concealment, and came 

rot here ' •■ ™ ""^X « be soon !— die here ! 

hisXk! '■"WhTchan^; I '''""'"' '"" °"^"' ^^"=hing at 
curse have yontut^l^^^Jr^r'"' I" f' ' "^^ 
"Give me baclc «°^xchimed R^h"! ^''ru"'>'^'=''''" 
man. " I am infected i T frL ■ ? ■ ^'='"^™. ''ke a mad- 
with poison for my ow„ mindTndt"'""'^ \ '"" '^^^'S^d 
Where I felt interesrrZn,'. ' ^ """''^ °f "" mankind, 
into stone SeTfishn'3T"' '^'T'"''^' ' ""■ '"'"'"g 
blightingfootsteps I am nnlT*'''''"t,'P"''g "P i" ■">' 
wretchef whom'^I make so ,L? "'",'k ''^^^ ''"^^ *an the 
transformation I can hatt them " *' '"°""="' "^ "^«'- 

hets't'hKff 'anVTu'ck^V ="" '-"'"8 '° •>- cloak- 
into the nightair „he r^t ■' '^ *™ ^'''''y '^"■•""^d °ut 
falling, the ctudlrtsTeepte ™ th"' """>, *^ ^""^ 
and where, blowing in ;T,!.P-!< T',,'" '"°°" '^'"''V shining, 
ing with the doul «V ■ "'^' ?"'"« "'"' ""^ ^"ow. drift! 
looming in the darknes " wi:"„"''-'pK """"K"^'- ''"'' ^Wvily 

gift thai I have gT^nU Shan '„ '"'""''' ™'-''^' "The 
wilH" ^ ' '^ " ^'"'" 8"'e again, go where you 






II 



306 THE HAUNTED MAN 

intelligible heaps, and made a ruinous confusion of. Those 
traces in his breast which the Phantom had told him would 
die out soon," were not, as yet, so far upon their way to 
death but that he understood enough of what he was, and 
what he made of others, to desire to be alone. 

This put it in his mind— he suddenly bethought himself 
as he was going along, of the boy who had rushed into his 
room. And then he recollected that, of those with whom he 
had communicated since the Phantom's disappearance, that 
boy alone had shown no sign of being changed. 

Monstrous and odious as the wild thing was to him, he 
determined to seek it out, and prove if this were really so • 
and also to seek it with another intention, which came into 
his thoughts at the same time. 

So, resolving with some difficulty where he was, he directed 
his steps back to the old college, and to that part o* where 
the general porch was, and where, alone, the pavement was 
worn by the tread of the students' feet. 

The keeper's house stood just within the iron gates, form- 
mg a part of the chief quadrangle. There was a little cloister 
outside, and from that sheltered place he knew he could look 
m at the window of their ordinary room, and see who was 
withm. The iron gates were shut ; but his hand was familiar 
with the fastening, and drawing it back by thrusting in his 
wrist between the bars, he passed through softly, shut it 
again, and crept up to the window, crumbling the thin crust 
of snow with his feet. 

The fire, to which he had directed the boy last night, 
shin ig brightly through the glass, made an illuminated place 
upon the ground. Instinctively avoiding this, and going 
round it, he looked in at the window. At first, he thought 
that there was no one there, and that the blaze was reddening 
only the old beams in the ceiling and the dark walls; but 
peering in more narrowly, he saw the object of his search 
coiled asleep before it on the floor. He passed quickly to 
the door, opened it, and went in. 

The creature lay in such a fiery heat that, as the Chemi-^f 
stooped to rouse him, it scorched his head. So soon as he 
was touched, the boy, not half awake, clutching his rags 
together with the instinct of flight upon him, half rolled and 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ,o7 

me?" "le v^nemist. You have not forgotten 

»« hous^lntTou:;"""'^'' "-^ ""y- "This i. the 
feel, and loJkeJ at^ ^ submission to be raised upon his 

we:'e?ru°is:?a:'d Sed"' PasLdTh r!?'"?^^ ™'"^- '"^^ 
iheir altered State. ^^""^d the Cliemist, pointing to 

"The woman did." 
^^^^ And is it she who has made you cleaner in the face. 

* Yes. The woman." 

hi.'l'^\"nf.!tV ^"-t his eyes towards 

and threw his wild hair back fhn''T\'^^,^''" ^^ ^^e chin, 
him. The boy watched his e;.l ^"^^ ^^ ^°^^^^^ '^ to"<^h 
needful to his Ln defence not knn'"'^' V^ \^ ^^""^^t it 

next; and Redlaw couTd see vvdl Z^"^ t"' ^' "^''^^^ ^« 
him. ^^^ ^"^^^ ^nat no change came over 

;;Where are they?" he inquired, 
i he woman's out" 

ha^r/anSwst:?" '^""^ '^ "'^ "'^ "- with the white 
^ T;^-\?rt!:-^^> mean... in^mVed the bo, 

fe.c£d'outt;it:i: a'„i tsr; j^- ..'■■^^^ -- 

Come with me " qaJH m^ r-u • P ^^^• 
money." ' ^'^ ^^^ C^^^i'st, "and I'll give ycu 

'"rnfvJ^'^'^^ ^"^ ^°^^' "^"^h will you give?" 

you biclToor ZVu'll': ^'^" ^°" -- '-' and bring 
from ? » ^°'' ^"°^ yo"'- ^ay to where you came 

of ZVl "''»!^' 'T"'"^' '^' ^°y' ^"^^^»Iy twisting out 
be or TMl E' ? a*^""'"^ to take you there T et mp 

oe. or 1 u heave some fire at you ' " 



3o8 



THE HAUNTED MAN 







ill 




He was down before it, and ready, with his savage little 
hand, to pluck the burning coals out 

What the Chemist had felt, in observing the effect of his 
charmed mfluence stealing over those with whom he came 
m contact, was not nearly equal to the cold vague tern^r 
with which he saw this baby-monster put it at defiance. It 
chilled his blood to look on the immovable, impenetrable 
thing, m the likeness of a child, with its sharp, malignant 
face turned up to his, and its almost infant hand ready at 
the bars. ^ 

" Listen, boy ! " he said. " You shall take me where you 
please, so chat you take me where the people are very miser- 
able or very wicked. I want to do them good, and not to 
harm them. You shall have money, as I have told you, and 
I will bring you back. Get up ! Come quickly ! " He made 
a hasty step towards the door, afraid of her returning 

"Will you let me walk by myself, and never hold me, nor 
yet touch me?" said the boy, slowly withdrawing the hand 
with which he threatened, and beginning to get up. 

!! ^"^ ^^^ ^^ go before, behind, or anyways I like ? " 
I will ! " 

" Give me some money first then, and I'll go " 

7^'a ^^u"^'? ^t^ ^ ^^"^ shillings, one by one, in his 
extended hand. To count them was beyond the boy's 
knowledge, but he said "one," every time, and avariciously 
looked at each as it was given, and at the donor. He had 
nowhere to put them, out of his hand, but in his mouth, 
and he put them there. 

Redlaw then wrote with his pencil, on a leaf of his pocket- 
Dook, that the boy was with him ; and laying it on the table 
signed to him to follow. Keeping his rags together, as usual,' 
the boy complied, and went out with his bare head and his 
naked feet into the winter night. 

Preferring not to depart by the iron gate by which he had 
entered, where they were in danger of meeting her whom he 
so anxiously avoided, the Chemist led the way, through some 
ot those passages among which the boy had lost himself, and 
by that portion of the building where he lived, to a small 
door of which he had the key. When *^-" — -—- -' 



they got into the 



e little 




re you 
miser- 
not to 
u, and 
made 

e, nor 
hand 



n his 
boys 
ously 
3 had 
Outh, 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ,oO 

take. Redlawgonn^Monce L M,"'™.''" ""'S"'^" '" 

Three tlmsSW , topped ■'Zr-H'Y "T '''^^ ^y ''^'^■ 
the Chemist glSceTdown a h*;. . ^^ "^\ "^'"'^^ "'"«=s 
forced upon him o^e rXion ' "''* """ ^'"""'^^^^'l "^ « 

ckSS.yllt ^TZC's:^,'"'' --,"--« »n old 

ind?c:d1,im1oTokup afth'r'''"^ 'n" "' *« •"<»" 
in her glory, surroufded^^^' ts'Tf\TJ."^^'lf ^^ 1" 

.0 see.-felt'n-I.hinrhe^rC'^fnf fo tit ,£" "•™' 
there, on a bright night ' " '°°^"'S "P 

stra^n'of'musirb^tToul'd n7r' '° "^'^" '° ^ P'-^'-e 
to him by the'd^ Ctl '■ f',.^ f""^' ""^^^ ™"''f«' 
own ears with nT,^ i^'"" °' *'^ instruments and his 

oTaThisner in it nfT '° ''">' '"''^"^^ "'hin him, wifh! 
upon Mm as the ound of t^' °' '' *" ^''''"'' P°^^"^^ 
rushing of last y^aSTtad '"''' ™""'"« "^'^^' " '"e 

iheir being unlike ^Irh nZ *"„"'' ,•"='*«" them, and 

expression^n the Ws faS was th'e ^^"^' "^P^^'^' ""= 
own. ^ ^ ^^^ *"^ expression on his 

=rc''d:V°pSlhaThfor^'TT"°" "^'-8'' -* 
think- he had ' ht. /' 1°°'"'^ ""^ '"^ shoulder 

with shadow on W ofhlf' id "' *''^""T"^ «"'«"« ""m 

^ f. -ould have co^ed^t^ ^^l .^k^ S.^^ 




3IO THE HAUNTED MAN 

coming on behind— until they arrived at a ruinous collection 
of houses, and the boy touched him and stopped. 

" In there ! " he said, pointing out one house where there 
were scattered lights in the windows, and a dim lantern in 
the doorway, with " Lodgings for Travellers " painted on it. 

Redlaw looked about him— from the houses to the waste 
piece of ground on which the houses stood, or rather did not 
altogether tumble down, unfenced, undrained, unlighted, and 
bordered by a sluggish ditch ; from that to the sloping line 
of arches, part of some neighbouring viaduct or bridge with 
which It was surrounded, and which lessened gradually, to- 
wards them, until the last but one was a mere kennel for a 
dog, the last a plundered little heap of bricks ; from that to 
the child, close to him, cowering and trembling with the 
cold, and limping on one little foot while he coiled the other 
round his leg to warm it, yet staring at all these things with 
that fnghtful likeness of expression so apparent in his face 
that Redlaw started from him. 

. Z}^ ^!^^^^ ' " ^^*^ ^^^ ^^y* pointing out the house again. 
" I'll wait." ^ 

" Will they let me in ? " asked Redlaw. 
" Say you're a doctor," he answered, with a nod. " There's 
plenty ill here." 

Looking back on his way to the house-door, Redlaw saw 
him trail himself upon the dust and crawl within the shelter 
of the smallest arch, as if he were a rat. He had no pity for 
the thing, but he was afraid of it, and when it looked out of 
Its den at him he hurried to the house as a retreat. 

"Sorrow, wrong, and trouble," said the Chemist, with a 
painful effort at some more distinct remembrance, " at least 
haunt this place darkly. He can do no harm who brin<^s 
forgetfulness of such things here ! " " 

With these words he pushed the yielding door, and went 
in. 

There was a woman sitting on the stairs, either asleep or 
forlorn, whose head was bent down on her hands and knees. 
As It was not easy to pass without treading on her, and as 
she was perfectly regardless of his near approach, he stopped 
and touched her on the shoulder. Looking up, she showed 
him quite a young face, but one whose bloom and promise 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 311 

11% klure'^p:;™^' " " *""" ""^"-^ "■■"'- *-'o ""-"'■ 

With little or no show of concern on his account, she 
.,oved nearer to the »all to leave him a wider ,«ssage. 

upon*:' brkenailrSl" ^'^''^ P^"'"^' *•"" '^ ^"'^ 
he^'Sgt.'"" "'"' ' '""" ^"^ ''"'^"'^- ^ho-ng him 
He looked upon the mined Temple of God, so lately 
made, so soon disHgured ; and something, which was not 
compassmn-for the springs in which a true compassfonfo 
such m.senes has its rise were dried up in his breast-bm 
«h,ch was nearer to it, for the moment, than any feeling tha 
had lately struggled ,nto the darkening, but not yet whoHy 

" I am come here to give relief, if I can," he said. " Are 
you thmkmg of any wrong ? " 

She frowned at him, and then laughed ; and then her 
bugh prolonged itself into a shivering sigh, 'as she dropped 
her head agam, and hid her fingers in her hair. ^^ 

^ Are you thmking of a wrong?" he asked once more. 

look at^him ^^ ^"^ ""^ ^'^^'' '^' '^^^' ^'"^ ^ "momentary 

He had a perception that she was one of many, and that 

he saw the type of thousands when he saw her dro^pt^g at 

II What are your parents ? " he demanded. 

1 had a good home once. My father was a gardener 
far away, in the country." i,aruener, 

" Is he dead ? " 

" He's dead to me. All such things are dead to me 
You a gentleman, and not know that ! " She raised hi; 
eyes agam, and laughed at him. ^^ 

"Girl!" said Redlaw sternly, "before this death of all 

vou ? iT -r r'^^y^u' ^^^^"'' ^^^ '^^''^ "« ^^■^^"g done to 

of wronl T °1''" '^'l >T """ ^^' ^°^^ "° remembrance 
of wrong cleave to you? Are there not times upon times 
when It IS misery to you ? " ^ 

So little of what was womanly was left in her appearance 



M 



312 THE HAUNTED MAN 

that now, when she burst into tears, he stood amazed. But 
he was more amazed, and much disquieted, to note that in 
her awakened recollection of this wrong, the first trace of hi r 
old humanity and frozen tenderness appeared to sho^v itself. 

He drew a little off, and in doing so observed that her 
arms were black, her face cut, and her bosom bruised. 

" What brutal hand has hurt you so ? " he as]:ed. 

"My own. I did it myself!" she answered quickly. 

"It is impossible." 

"I'll swear I did! He didn't touch me. I did it to 
myself in a passion, and threw myself down here. He wasn't 
near me. He never laid a hand upon me ! " 

In the white determination of her face, confronting him 
with this untruth, he saw enough of the last perversion antl 
distortion of good surviving in that miserable breast to he 
stricken with remorse that he had ever come near her. 

" Sorrow, wrong, and trouble ! " he muttered, turning his 
fearful gaze away. "All that connects her with the state 
from which she has fallen has those roots ! In the name of 
God, let me go by ! " 

Afraid to look at her again, afraid to touch her, afraid to 
think of having sundered the last thread by which she held 
upon the mercy of Heaven, he gathered his cloak about him 
and glided swiftly up the stairs. * 

Opposite to him, on the landing, was a door, which stood 
partly open, and which, as he ascended, a man with a candle 
in his hand came forward from within to shut. But this 
man, on seeing him, drew back, with much emotion in his 
manner, and, as if by a sudden impulse, mentioned his name 
aloud. 

In the surprise of such a recognition there, he stopped, 
endeavouring to recollect the wan and startled face. He 
had no time to consider it, for, to his yet greater amazement, 
old Philip came out of the room and took him by the hand. 

"Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, "this is like you, this i^ 
like you, sir I You have heard ot and have come after u. 
to render any help you can. Ah, i . late, too late ! " 

Redlaw, with a bewildered look, submitted to be led into 
the room. A man lay there, on a truckle-bed, and William 
Swidger s*ood at the bedside. 



AND THE GHOST'S HARGAIN. 



313 



Too ute ! " murmured the old man, looking wistfully into 
the Chemist's face, and the tears stole down his cl.eeks. 

That's what I say, father," interposed his son in a low 
voice. "That's where it is, exactly. To keep as quiet as 
ever we can while he's a-dozing is the only thing to do. 
You're right, father ! " / 6 "v.. 

Redlaw paused at the bedside, and looked down on the 
figure that was stretched upon the mattress. It was that of 
a man who should have been in the vigour of his life, but on 
whom It was not likely that the sun would ever shine again 
1 he vices of his forty or fifty years' career had so branded 
him that, in comparison with their effects upon his face, the 
heavy hand of time upon the old man's face who watched 
him had been merciful and beautifying. 

"Who is this?" asked the Chemist, looking round. 

" My son George, Mr. Redlaw," said the old man, wring- 
ing his hands. " My eldest son, George, who was more his 
mother's pride than all the rest ! " 

Redlaw's eyes wandered from the old man's grey head, as he 
laid It down upon the bed, to the person who had recognized 
him, and who had kept aloof, in the remotest corner of the 
room. He seemed to be about his own age ; and although 
he knew no such hopelessly decayed and broken man as he 
appeared to be, there was something in the turn of his figure 
as he stood with his back towards him, and now went out at 
the door, that made him pass his hand uneasily across his 
brow. 

"William," he said, in a gloomy whisper, "who is that 
man ? " 

" Why, you see, sir," returned Mr. William, " that's what I 
say, myself. Why should a man ever go and gamble, and 
the hke of that, and let himself down inch by inch till he 
can't let himself down any lower ? " 

"Has he done so?" asked Redlaw, glancing after him 
with the same uneasy action as before. 

" Jus^t exactly that', sir," returned William Swidger, "as I'm 
told. He knows a little about medicine, sir, it seems ; and 
having been wayfaring towards London with my unhappy 
brother that you see here"— Mr. William passed his coat- 
sleeve across his eyes— "and being lodging upstairs for the 



3H 



THE HAUNTED MAN 







!fi 



ii ^-S'. 



night — what I say, you see, is that strange companions come 
together here sometimes — he looked in to attend upon him, 
and came for us at his request. What a mournful si)ectacle, 
sir ! But that's where it is. It's enough to kill my father ! " 

Redlaw looked up at these words, and, recalling where he 
was and with whom, and the spell he carried with him — 
which his surprise had obscured— retired a little, hurriedly, 
debatiiig with himself whether to shun the liouse that mo- 
ment or remain. 

Yielding to a certain s'lllen dogpcdness, which it seemed 
to be a part of his condition to struggle with, he argued for 
remaining. 

" Was it only yesterday," he said, " when I observed the 
memory of this old man to be a tissue of sorrow and trouble, 
and shall I be afraid, to-night, to shake it? Are such re- 
membrances as I can drive away so precious to this dying 
man that I need fear for /urn / No ! I'll stay here." 

But he stayed in fear and trembling none the less for these 
words ; and shrouded in his black cloak, with his face turned 
from them, stood away from the bedside, listening to what 
they said, as if he felt himself a demon in the place. 

" Father ! " murmured the sick man, rallying a little from 
his stupor. 

" My boy ! my son George ! " said old Philip. 

" You spoke just now of my being mother's uvourite long 
ago. It's a dreadful thing to think now of long ago ! " 

"No, no, no," returned the old man. "Think of it. 
Don't say it's dreadful. It's not dreadful to me, my son." 

"It cuts you to the heart, father." For the old man's 
tears were falling on him. 

" Yes, yes," said Philip, " so it does , but it does me good. 
It's a heavy sorrow to think of that time; but it does me good, 
George. Oh, think of it too, think of it too, and your heart 
will be softened more and more ! Where's my son William ? 
William, my boy, your mother loved him dearly to the last, 
and with her latest breath said, 'Tell him I forgave him. 
blessed him, and prayed for him.' Those were her words to 
me. I have never forgotten them, and I am eighty-seveii ! " 

"Father!" sr" ^ the man upon the bed, "1 am dying, I 
know. I am so Lax gone that I can hardly speak, even or 



^i 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 315 

t^;LZT,iir' ""^ ^"- '- ^'-'-^ -y ^^Pe ^or me 

"There is hope." returi.ed the old man, "for all who are 

softened and penitent. There is hope fo all such Oh -» 

I'.ntf r^'1' ''"'P'"« ^'■•'^ ^''^"^^ ^"d looking m, '• I was 
thankful, only yesterday, that I could remember thit un 
happy son when he was an innocent chikl liut w 't .* 
comfort IS ,t now to think that even (iod Hin^self ha that 
remembrance of him '" ""nscii nas that 

muKW '^'''^ ^'' ^""^' "P"" ^'^ ^^^^' ^"d shrunk, like a 
"Ah!" feebly moaned the man upon the bed "Th*. 
waste smce then, the waste of life «ince then 1 '' ^ 

Jnit he was a child once," said the old man " H. 
pbyed with children. Before 'he lay down on his" bed" t 
night, and fell mto his guiltless rest/ he said his nravers a 
|s poor mother's knee. I have seen him do itrmany a 
ime; and seen her lay his head upon her breast and kiss 
hnn. Sorrowful as it was to her and me to think of this 
when he went so wrong, and when our hop-s and plans fo 
h.m were all broken, this gave him still a hold upon us tha 
?.n'".l '^r^K"°"^^ ^^^^ S'"^- ^ Father, so mTh bette 
ffli^/^ K^^'u^" "P°" ^^'■^^•' O Father, so much more 

bfck ''noV^' T"" k"' ^""^ ^'^''^^^'"' '^^^ ^his wanderer 
Tht K u ' ^^ "' ^"^ ^'' ^^ ^'-^s then, let him cry to 
Thee, as ho has so often seemed to cry to us ' " ^ 

whnn u ."'"'u "^^^"^ "P ^'^ trembling hands, the son for 

horn he made the supplication laid his sinking head agains 

orwhl^ rs^ok^' ^'^"'°^^' '' ' '^ -- - '-^ ^heS 
^V hen did man ever tremble as Rf>dlaw trembled in thp 

bew^h'l^'l '"^"''•. "^ ^"-' '^ "^"«^ come upon hem 
knew that it was coming fast. ^ ' 

-irkmL^'""^ '' very short, my breath is shorter," said the 

"o'rVr^^f S^'Tf '"" ""7 ^T' ^^^ ^'^^ ^h^ «^he' 
^-i-in^ m tne air, and I remember there is something on 

niymmd concerning the man who was here just noT Father 

and Will.m-wait:-is there really anyth/ng Tblac^'tt 

"Yes, yes, it is real," said his aged father. 




•l»^- 




316 THE HAUNTED MAN 

"Is it a man?" 

•• What I say myself, George," interposed his brother, bend- 
ing kindly over hitn. " It's Mr. Rcdlaw." 

" I thought I had dreamed of him. Ask him to conu 
here." 

The Chemist, whiter than the dying man, appeared before 
him. Obedient to the motion of his hand, he sat upon 
the bed. 

" It has been so ripped up to-night, sir," said the sick man, 
laying his ban J upt^n his heart, with a look in which the 
mute, imploring agony of his condition was concentrate. 1, 
"by the sight of my poor oU\ father, and the thought of all 
the trouble I have been the cause of, and all the wrong and 
sorrow lying at my door, that " 

Was it the extremity to which he had come, or was it the 
dawning of another change, that made him stop? 

" — that what I m/i do right, with my mind running on 
so much, so fast, I'll try to do. There was another man 
here. Did you see him ? " 

Redlaw could not reply by any word ; for when he saw 
that fatal sign he knew so well now, . *" the wandering hand 
upon the forehead, his voice ditd at his lips. But he made 
some indication of assent. 

" He is penniless, hungry, and destitute. He is completely 
beaten down, and has no resource at all. Look after him 1 
Lose no time ! I know he has it in his mind to kill himself." 

It was working. It was on his face. Mis face wa; 
changing, hardening, deepening in all its shades, and losing 
all its sorrow. 1 

*' Don't you remember ? Don't you know him ? " he pur- 
sued. 

He shut his face out for a moment, with the hand that 
again wandered over his forehead, and then it lowered on 
Redlaw, reckless, ruffianly, and callous. 

" 'VVhy, d n you ! " he said, scowling round, " what haw 

you been doing to me here? I have lived hold, and I mean 
to die bold. To the Devil with you ! " 

And so lay down upon his bed, and put his arms up, over 
his head and ears, as resolute from that time to keep out all 
access, and to die in his indifference. 



ir Rt'dlaw had been stmrl K« i.- « . • ^ ' 

struck him from the b-,J Se w h '^ "'"^' '' ^°"^^* "^^ ^ave 
But the old man. who td Icf ih.T'i ''IT^'^-^^ shock, 
speaking to him/now returnin^^^^ ''"* ^^n was 

and with abhorrence ^' ^'""^^''^ '^ ^"^^J^ly liicewise, 

leave your own son ? " ' '^'^^ XO" going to 

.My children arc plealTto bok « andT"' ''?"" °" "'^• 
jnd get ,„y meat and drink readv ,nH^'^ '"""."P"" ""«• 

|loolcin°;aTlt SwK. ':,,rh°'''^;'" r""--^ "'"'-. 
; I don't knowwLtSouare 2, ?f V" >"■» ""'^''«^' 
deal more pleasure without you " ^ ^* " '^""^^ ''»*■« « 

.00! The°"b.^'ulkfn*"r '" "'^'' ""■ "'^ -"=•"■ "^/ son 

Ke ever donTto'gi ^^^ ^^anv"' if "" ', "''■y- ^l'^' ""^ 
know?" * "^ *"^ pleasure, I should like to 

pl.l'urt"Iw"wi,L'n"si;i,'^^^ ^^^' ""^ •» give „. any 

I "Let me think" «,niH fk£' u 

Chn-stmas times runn^L hive Jl,™"- "*°' ''°* '"^"r 

»ever had to come ou i? the cold ni„h, "'' """J P'*«' ^^ 
Ispod cheer, without beine dLurllrf 1 ""' ^"'' •>**•« -"'de 
^ble, wretched sigh as h"m there ? 1%^ '""^ uncomfort- 
I " Nigher forty, it sLmT" hi /^ "'"-enty, William ? » 
look at my father sirTd' ..„ T""!':^f "^'hy- *hen I 

Rc-dlaw, ith an m^^ti^L'T//? 'f'""^ of it," a'ddres^g 
F»-, "I am whionprl f T imtation that were „ 'te 

calendar of ever To 11 '^ T ""'"'""^ '" h™ b"' a 
hjng himself eomfoSi:;:,°/„^re^- :;1n''i'"''"^' "'' 

U4"andlX'"a:;fdoa\°''' 4 -"•"■"g »". 
h out by anything/' rr„o\l;"o^r fer^T^-u^ 



;i«»cir. 



f -.■•j.'..i» 



^/s^: 



3l8 THE HAUNTED MAN 

of what he calls my son. He's not my son. I've had a pov 
of pleasant times. I recollect once— no, I don't— no, 
broken off. It was something about a game of cricket an( 
Iriend of mme, but it's somehow broken off I wonder w 
he was ?— I suppose I liked him. And I wonder what becai 
of him ?— I suppose he died. But I don't know. And I do 
care neither; I don't care a bit." 

In his drowsy chuckling, and the shaking of his head, 
put his hands into his waistcoat pockets. In one of the 
he found a bit of holly (left there probably last night), whi. 
he now took out and looked at. 

" Berries, eh ? " said the old man. " Ah ! it's a pity they' 
not good to eat. I recollect, when I was a little chap abo 
as high as that, and out a-walking with— let me see— wl 
was I out a-walking with?— no, I don't remember how th 
was. I don't remember as I ever walked with any one pa 
ticular, or cared for any one, or any one for me. Berrie 
el.? There's good cheer when there's berries. Well 
ought to have my share of it, and to be waited on, ar 
kept vyarm and comfortable; for I'm eighty-seven, and 
poor old man. I'm eigh-ty-seven. Eigh-ty-seven ! " 

The drivelling, pitiable manner in which, as he repeate 
this he nibbled at the leaves, and spat the morsels out : th 
cold, uninterested eye with which his youngest son (s 
changed) regarded him ; the determined apathy with whic 
his eldest son lay hardened in his sin, impressed themselve 
no more on Redlaw's observation, for he broke his way fror 
the spot to which his feet seemed to have been fixed, am 
ran out of the house. 

His guide came crawling forth from his place of refuge 
and was ready for him before he reached the arches. 
" Back to the woman's ? " he inquired. 
" Back, quickly ! " answered Redlaw. " Stop nowhere ot 
the way ! " , 

For a short distance the boy went on before; but thti' 
return was more like a flight than a walk, and it was as mu 
as his bare feet could do to keep pace with the Chemist 
rapid strides. Shrinking from all who passed, shrouded i. 
his cloak, and keeping it drawn closely about him, as thougi 
there were mortal contagion in any fluttering touch of hi 



a 



i a power 
—no, it's 
ket and a 
ider whf; 
t became- 
id I dont 

head, he 

of them 

t), which 

y they're 
ap about 
ee — who 
low that 
one par- 
Berries, 
Well, I 
on, and 
, and a 



■epeated 
)ut; th 
son (so 
h which 
:mselve5 
ay from 
:ed, and 



refuge. 



lere or 

ut the: 
.s mua 
lemistj 



AND THE GHOST'r BARGAIN. 319 

garments, he made no pause until they reached the door bv 
which they had come out. He unlocked it w th hrkev 
went ,n, accompamed by the boy, and hastened through the 
dark passages -. Sia own chamber. ^ 

The boy watched hin. as he made the door fast and 
withdrew be ;., ,1 the ta! le when he looked round ' 

Come ! -i.^ sa,.l ^ Don't you touch me ! You've not 
brought me here to take my money away " 

Rcdlaw threw some more upon the ground. He fluntr hi. 
body on It immediately, as if to hide it from him lestShe 
sight of It should tempt him to reclaim it ; and nS' untH he 
saw him seated by his lamp, with his ice hiSden "n his 

helrep'Tar th"1' '" ^^ '' "P' ^'^^^ ^^ ^ '"^-^ s^ 
ne crept near tht fire, and, sittmg down in a great chai^ 

before It took from his breast some broken scraS o food 
and fell to munching, and to staring at the blaze and nnw 
and then to glancing at his shillings,^hich he kepi cluXd 
up in a bunch, in one hand. ^ cicncned 

"And this," said Redlaw, gazing on him with increasing 

How long it was before he was aroused from his con- 
templation of this creature, whom he dreaded sL-wheZ 

sdlnr r.K' "' ^"^^ the night__he knew not. But the 
stillness of the room was broken by the boy (whom he had 
seen listening) starting up, and running towar'dl thelor. 
Here s the woman commg ! » he exclaimed. 

she knocked''' "'"'^^"'^ ^'"" '" ^'' ^'">'' ^' '^^ "^^"^^"^ ^^^en 
;;Let me go to her, will you?" said the boy. 
Not now," returned the Chemist. - Stay here Nobodv 
must pass m or out of the room now. Whol that?" ^ 

It s I, sir, cried Milly. " Pray, sir, let me in I » 
No ! not for the world ! " he said 
;;Mr. Redlaw, Mr. Redlaw, pray, sir, let me in." 
^ VVhat IS the matter?" he said, holding the boy 
Ihe miserable man you saw is worse, and" nothing I can 
say will wake him from his terrible infituation. wllliam's 

L c" '^d T^^^ t't\" ^ "°"^^"^- William "SmsTf 
IS Changed. Ihe shock has beea too sudden for him: I 

II ' 



If 



#11 

l» 



•|i 



320 THE HAUNTED MAN 

cannot understand him; he is not like himself. Oh, Mr 
Red law, pray advise me, help me ! " 

" No ! no ! no ! " he answered. 

" Mr. Redlaw ! Dear Sir ! George has been muttering, i- 
his doze, about the man you saw there, who, he fears, will 
kill himself." 

" Better he should do it than come near me ! " 

"He says, in his wandering, that you know him; that he 
was your friend once, long ago ; that he is the ruined fatlier 
of a student here — my mind misgives me, of the young gentle- 
man who has been ill. What is to be done ? How is he to 
be followed? How is he to be saved? Mr. Redlaw, pray, 
oh, pray, advise me ! Help me ! " 

All this time he held the boy, who was half-mad to pass 
him and let her in. 

" Phantoms ! Punishers of impious thoughts ! " cried Red- 
law, gazing round in anguish, " look upon me ! From tlie 
darkness of my mind, let the glimmering of contrition that 
I kno\/ is there shine up, and show my misery! In the 
material world, as I have long taught, nothing can be spared ; 
no step or atom in the wondrous structure could be lost,' 
without a blank being made in the great universe. I know- 
now that it is the same with good and evil, happiness and 
sorrow, in the memories of men. Pity me ! Relieve me ! " 
There was no response but her " Help me, help me, let 
me in ! " and the boy's struggling to get to her. 

"Shadow of myself! Spirit of my darker hours!" cried 
Redlaw, m distraction, " come back, and haunt me day and 
night, but take this gift away ! Or, if it must still rest with 
me, deprive me of the dreadful power of giving it to others. 
Undo what I have done. Leave me benighted, but restore 
the day to those whom I have cursed. As I have spared 
this woman from the first, and as I never will go forth again, 
but will die here, with no hand to tend me, save this creature s 
who is proof against me, hear me ! " 

The only reply still was, the boy struggling to get to her, 
while he held him back ; and the cry, increasing in its energ}, 
" Help ! let me in. He was your friend once— how shall he 
be followed, how shall he be saved ? They are all changed, 
there is no one else to help me— pray, pray, let me in I " 



let 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 32 1 

CHAPTER Hi. 

THE GIFT REVERSED. 

Night was still heavy in the sky. On open plains, from 
hill-tops, and from the decks of solitary ships at sea, a 
distant, low-lying line, that promised by-and-by to change 
to light, was visible in the dim horizon; but its promise was 
remote and doubtful, and the moon was striving with the 
night-clouds busily. 

The shadows upon Redlaw's mind succeeded thick and 
fast to one another, and obscured its light as the night-clouds 
hovered between the moon and the earth, and kept the latter 
veiled in darkness. Fitful and uncertain as the shadows which 
the night-clouds cast were their concealments from him and 
imperfect revelations to him ; and, like the night-clouds still, 
n the clear light broke forth for a moment, it was only that 
they might sweep over it, and make the darkness deeper than 
before. 

\yithout, th_Te was a profound and solemn hush upon the 
ancient pi building, and its buttresses and angles made 

dark shape. lystery upon the ground, which now seemed 

to retire into the smooth, white snow, and now seemed to 
come out of it, as the moon's path was mere or less beset. 
^\ithin, the Chemist's room was indistinct and murky, by 
the light of the expiring lamp ; a ghostly silence had suc- 
ceeded to the knocking and the voice outside ; nothing was 
audible but, now and then, a low sound among the whitened 
ashes of the fire, as of its yielding up its last breath. Before 
it, on the ground, the boy lay fast asleep. In his chair, the 
Chemist sat, as he had sat there since the calling at his door 
had ceased — like a man turned to stone. 

At such a time, the Christmas music he had heard before 
began to play. He listened to it at first, as he had listened 
in the churchyard ; but presently— it playing still, and being 
borne towards him on the night air, in a low, sweet, melan- 
choly strain— he rose, and stood stretching his hands about 
him, as if there were some friend approaching within his 
reach, on whom his desolate touch might rest, yet do no 
harm. As he did this, his face became less fixed and won 



f. ts 



rl *i 




3^2 THE HAUNTED MAN 

Wd"dlvn his'S:"' '^ ^"^ ''^ '^"'^ ^^^^- ^^-' - 

bacT'to"'Mm°'"'h °^^^°'"'-'^T' ^'^°"- ^"d trouble had not con. 
back to him; he knew that it was not restored • he had n 
pass.ng behef or hope that it was. But some dumb s 

was niddcn, afar off, m the music. If it were only thit ii 

H avrfo/irSV?*^ ™'r" °' "*3' "^ "^^ lost, he thSe 
n-aven tor it with a fervent gratitude 

H-;.n t^-!^f- ''''°-'^ "^'^^ "P°" ^'^ ^^'•' J^e raised his head to 
I -^ten to Its hngering vibration. Beyond the boy so that h " 

t^T^rn'Z^ '' '^ '^"^' '^' ^^^"^°- s^ood!'immot.l/ 
ana silent, with its eyes upon him 

Ghastly it was, as it had ever been, but not so cruel and 
relentless in its aspect-or he thought or hoped so as 
iookcd upon It trembling. It was not alone/bm in • 
shadowy hand it held another hand 

• f ""} S'n'! ^^^ ^^^^ ^ ^^'^^ the form that stood beside it 
indeed Mdly's, or but her shade and picture? The qui ' 
head was bent a little, as her manner was, and her eyes ^^x,: 

"ht'ii'orhe'r' '/ " f^' z '''' ^^^^p^"s ^^'^d A ::r;t 

1 gnt Lll on her face, but did not touch the Phantom fnr 
though c ose beside her, it was dark and col "urfel^'Tve ' 
"I lm4 no h?"^ the Chemist, newly troubled as he looked, 
her Oh do nn^K ^^K°'"u "^^ P^^^^^^P^^ous in respect of 
'' T^u • '• Z """^ ^""S her here. Spare me that ! " 
Ihis is but a shadow," said the Phantom ; "when the 

SrP'""' ""^ '"^ ^'^ ''''''y ^^'^°- i-^§- I P-sent 

u ll t y ^"'^'^P'-tble doom to do so ? " cried the Chemist. 
It IS, replied the Phantom. 

am"mv,flf' '°'^ ^''' ??f ' ^'' g^o^ness-to make her what I 
am myself, and what I have made of others ' " 

hCL^tr '^^"^ ' '"f ^ ^"' °"''' " '■"^^"^"^^^ the Phantom. " I 
nave said no more. ' 

which he fancied might lie hidden in the words. "Can 1 
undo what I have done ? " 
• No," returned the Phantom. 



tt ' 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 323 

«wJ .^? T^ ^^^ for restoration to myself," said Redlaw. 

What I abandoned, I abandoned of my own will, and have 
justly lost. But for those to whom I have transferred the 
fatal gift-who never sought it ; who unknowingly received 
a curse o which they had no warning, and which they had 
no power to shun— can I do nothing ? " 

"Nothing," said the Phantom. 

" If I cannot, can any one ? " 

The Phantom, standing like a statue, kept ks gaze upon 
mm for a while; then turned its head suddenly, and looked 
upon the shadow at its side. i^uKcu 

"Ah! can she?" cried Redlaw, still looking upon the shade. 

The Phantom released the hand it had retained till now 
and softly raised its own with a gesture of dismissal. Upon 
that, her snadow, still presemng the same attitude, began to 
move or melt away. ^ 

"Stay," cried Redlaw, with an earnestness to which he 
could not give enough expression. " For a moment ! As 

when those sounds were in the air just now. Tell me have 

out dread ? Oh, let her give me any sign of hope ! " 
ine Phantom looked upon the shade as he did— not at 

him — and gave no answer. 

" At least, say this-has she, henceforth, the consciousness 

of any power to set right what I have done?" 
" She has not," the Phantom answered. 

sciou^ness ? " '^"^ ^°'''^' ''^^^to^^■ed on her without the con- 

The Phantom answered, "Seek her out." And her 
shadow slowly vanished 

They were face to face again, and looking on each other 
as mtently and awfully as at the time of the bestowal of the 
gift, across the boy who still lay on the ground between 
them, at the Phantom's feet. ^ "ctween 

"Terrible instructor," said the Chemist, sinking on his 
knees before it, m an attitude of supplication, "by whom I 
was renounced, but by whom I am revisited (in which, and 

af hoi'? ?'\? f P^^^.' I ^°"^^ ^^^" ^^"^^« I have a gleam 
ot hope), 1 will obey without inquiry, praying that the cry I 



/^msB 



43' 

: ■if. 



ii ■ 



I 



I''; 
11 



984 THE HAUNTED MAN 

have sent up in the anguish of my soul has been, or will be, 
heard, in behalf of those whom I have injured beyond human 
reparation. But there is one thing » 

"You speak to me of what is lying here," the Phanton 
interposed, and pointed with its finger to the boy. 

/' ' ^?rl ^f """"^^ the Chemist. " You know what I would 
ask. Why has this child alone been proof against my influ 
ence, and why, why have I detected in its thoughts a terrible 
companionship with mine?" 

"This," said the Phantom, pointing to the boy, "is the 
last, completest illustration of a human creature utterlv 
bereft of such remembrances as you have yielded up. No 
softening memory of sorrow, wrong, or trouble enters here 
because this wretched mortal from his birth has been aban- 
doned to a worse condition than the beasts, and has, within 
lis knowledge, no one contrast, no humanizing touch, to 
make a gram of such a memory spring up in his hardened 
areast. All withm this desolate creature is barren wilder- 
ness. All withm the man bereft of what you have resigned 
IS the same barren wilderness. Woe to such a man i Woe 
fenfo d, to the nation that shall count its monsters such af' 
mis, lying here, by hundreds and by thousands ! " 

• Redlaw shrunk, appalled, from what he heard 

"There is not" said the Phantom, " one of these— not one 
—but sows a harvest that mankind must reap. From everv 
seed of evil m this boy a field of ruin is grown that shall 
be gathered in, and garnered up, and sou-n again in manv 
places m the world, until regions are overspread with wicked- 
ness enough to raise the waters of another Deluge Open 
and unpunished murder in a city's streets would be less 
guilty m Its daily toleration, than one such spectacle as this " 

It seemed to look down upon the boy in his sleep. Redlau, 
too, looked down upon him with a new emotion. 

• "u^^T^ '^ "°' ^ father," said the Phantom, » by whose side, 
in his daily or his nightly walk, these creatures pass ; there 
is not a mother among all the ranks of loving motliers in tli;= 
land; there is no one risen from the state of childhood, but 
^lall be responsible in his or her degree for this enormity 
there is not a country throughout the earth on which 'it 
would not bring a curse. There is nc religion upon earth 



side, 
there 

n this 
but 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 325 

that it would not deny ; there is no peop]..- upon earth it 
would not put to shame." 

The Chemist clas{)ed his hands, and looked, with trembhng 
fear and pity, from the sleeping boy to the Phantom, standing 
above him with its finger pointing down. 

"Behold, I say," pursued the Spectre, "the perfect type of 
what It was your choice to be. Vour influence is powerless 
here, because from this child's bosom you can banish nothing. 
His thoughts have been in 'terrible companionship' witli 
yours, because you have gone down to his unnatural level. 
He IS the growth of man's indifference ; you are the growth 
of man's presumption. The beneficent design of Heaven is, 
m each case, overthrown, and from the two poles of the 
immaterial world you come together." 

The Chemist stooped upon the ground beside the boy, 
and, with the same kind of compassion for him that he now 
felt for himself, cove-ed him as he slept, and no longer 
shrunk from him with abhorrence or indifference. 

Soon, now, the distant line on tiie horizon brightened, the 
darkness faded, the sun rose red and glorious, and' the 
chimney-stacks and gables of the ancient building gleamed 
in the clear air, which turned the smoke and vapour of the 
city into a cloud of gold. The very sundial in his shady 
corner, where the wind was used to spin with such un- 
windy constancy, shook off the finer particles of snow that 
had accumulated on his dull old face in the night, and looked 
out at the little white wreaths eddying round and round him. 
Doubtless some blind groping of the morning made its way 
down into the forgotten crypt so cold and earthy, where 
the Norman arches were half buried in the ground, and 
stirred the dull sap in the lazy vegetation hanging to the 
walls, and quickened the slow princi{jle of life within the 
little worid of wonderful and delicate creation which existed 
there, with some faint knowledge that the sun was up. 
^ The Tetterbys were up ana doing. Mr. letterby took 
vxown the shutters of the shop, and, strip by strip, revealed 
the treasures of the window to the eyes, so proof against their 
seductions, of Jerusalem Buildings. Adolphus had been out 
so long already, that he was half-way on to ^^orning Pepper, 
rive small Tetterbys, whose ten round eyes were much iul 



iti 



11 ; 

it 

[if 



III M^# 



32^ THE HAUNTED MAN 

flamed by soap and friction, were in the tortures of a cor J 
wash m the back kitchen. Mrs. Tetterby presK JohZ 
who was pushed and hustled through hirtdLt..,K„^' 
rapjduy when Moloch chanced to bet aLx t .g^ r'S 

oy a complication of defenc- s against the cold, comoosed of 
knitted worsted work, and forming a complete suh of chai^i 
armour, with a headpiece and blue gaiters 

Whether 7''"^'^"'^ ""^ '^'' ^^^^ '^ ^^ ^'^^^y^ cutting teeth. 

away aJaif i"no7 i^"'''^ "'^^^^^ ^^^^ ^^'"^ ^"' -- 
away again, is not in evidence; but it had certainlv r,.f 

enough, on the showing of Mrs. Tetterby. toVakTa hand 

ITsorts" o TT" '°^ '^' ^^^" °^ the' BulUnd Mouth." 
All sorts of objects were impressed for the rubbine of it 

waist (which was immediately under its chin), a bone rin^ 
fe'rt' '° ^T ^^P^^^ented the rosary of a young nun' 

sdeSiTrom^eT^^^^^^^^^^ ^'^ ^^^^^ -' walking^ticks 

selected trom the stock, the fingers of the family in general 

ot doors, and the cool knobs on the tops of ookers were 
among the commonest instruments indiscrim^rtely aiplfed 
for this baby's relief. The amount of electrid?y Lt mus; 

ImmTr^r^'K °"' °' '' '" ^ "-'^ ^' -^ to be'calcuS 
then fJUu ^'^^,.^'u'^>L' '^^^ "^' ^^' coming through, and 

thronlh f 'J'lr"^,^ ^''''^^'" ^"d «t'" it never did come 
through and the child continued to be somebody else 

The tempers of the little Tetterbys had sadly changed 

With a few hours Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby thern elvt were 

not more altered than their offspring. Usualh^ th^y we e 

an unselfish, good-natured, vielding little race sharing short 

tereTLd'^" '' '^PP^"f^ ("^'^^'^ was pretty oLnVc^^^^^^ 

««i.. f .X. ' ""eat. ±5ut they were fiehtmar now not 

w^'^vS' ,w°"P tf^ n?' "'"' ^'^ f" 'he breakfast Xt 
was yet m perspective. The hand of every little Tetterhv «^. 

— «ne patient, much-endunng, and devoted Johnny— rose 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 327 

against the baby I Yes. Mrs. Tetterby, going to the door 
by a mere accident, saw him viciously pick out a weak place 

bks^ed child ^''"'°"' *" "" "'""^ '"''"''^ ^''"' ^""^ "'"^P ^^^' 

.h!f'^' '^^"^'Jy j^^d ^'"^ into the parlour, by the collar, in 
there'to""^ ^'"'''' '^"^^'^ '"'" ^^^ ^''"""^^ ""''^^ "'^W 

" You b- utc-, you murdering little boy," said Mrs. Tetterby. 

Had you the heart to do it ? " ^ 

"Why don't her teeth come through, then," retorted 
Johnny m a loud, rebellious voice, "instead of botherine 
mei* How would you like it yourself?" 

"Like it sir!" said Mrs. Tetterby, relieving him of his 
dishonoured load. 

" Yes, like it," said Johnny. « How would you ? Not at 
aJl. If you was me, you'd go for a soldier. I will, too. 
Ihere am t no babies in the army." 

uu'""^!^'"^!^^^' ^-^^ '^^^ arrived upon the scene of action, 
rubbed his chin thoughtfully, instead of correcting the rebel 
and seemed rather struck by this view of a military life 

rJ^h/""^''-^ \7^'n" ^''t ^^y "^y^^^^' '^ the child's in the 
right, said Mrs. letterby, looking at her husband, "for I 
have no peace of my life here. I'm a slave-a Virginia 
slave; some indistinct association with their weak descent 
on the tobacco trade perhaps suggested this aggravated 
expression to Mrs. Tetterby. «I never have a holiday, or 
any pleasure at all, from year's end to year's end! Why 
Lord bless and save the child!" said Mrs. Tetterby, shaking 
the baby with an irritability hardly suited to so pious an 
aspiration, " what's the matter with her now ? " 

Not being able to discover, and not rendering the subject 
much clearer by shaking it, Mrs. Tetterby put the baby away 
m a wadle, and, folding her arms, sat rocking it angrily with 

"How you stand there, 'Dolphus," said Mrs. Tetterby to 
her husband. " Why don't you do something ? " 

"Because I don't care about doing anything," Mr. Tetterby 



"I am sure /don't," said Mrs. Tetterby 
A'i. take my oath /don't," said Mr. Tel 



itterby. 



iia 





3^8 THE HAUNTED MAN 

A diversion arose here among Johnny and his five you n"r 
brothers, who, in preparing the family breakfast-table, nut 
fallen to skirmishing for the temporary possession of tht 
loaf, and were buffeting one another with great heartiness 
the smallest boy of all, with precocious discretion, hoveririL 
outside the knot of combatants and harassing their let's 
Into the niidst of this fray Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby both pro 
cipitated themselves with great ardour, as if such groun,: 
were the only ground on which they could now agree ; an.] 
having, with no visible remains of their late soft-heartedness 
laid about them without any lenity, and done much execu- 
tion, resumed their former relative positions. 

.'^Y?" ^i^ ^^"^'' ""^^ yo"*" paper than do nothing at all," 
said Mrs. Tetterby. 

"What's there to read in a paper ?" returned Mr. Tetterby 
with excessive discontent. 

" What ? " said Mrs. retterby. " Police." 

"It: lothing to me," said Tetterby. '""Vhat do I can 
what people do, or are done to ? " 

" Suicides," suggested Mrs. 1 etterby. 

I* No business of mine," replied her husband. 

.'^^'Z^^^^^^*^^^' ^"^ marriages, are those nothing to yon ?' 
said Mrs. Tetterby. ^ ^ 

"If the births were all over for good, and all to-day, and 
the deaths were all to begin to come off to-morrow, I don't 
see why it should interest me, till I thought it w.-.s a-comina 
to my turn," grumbled Tetterby. "As to marriages, I've 
done it myself. I know quite enough about ///m." 

To judge from the dissatisfied expression of her face and 
manner, Mrs. Tetterby appeared to entertain the same 
opinions as her husband ; but she opposed him, nevertheless, 
tor the gratification of quarrelling with him. 

"Oh, you're a consistent man," said Mrs. Tetterby, "ain't 
you? You, with the screen of your own making there, made 
of nothing else but bits of newspapers, which you sit and i 
read to the children by the half-hour together ! " 

" Say used to, if you please," returned her husband. " You 
won't find me doing so any more. I'm wiser now." 

"Bah! wiser, indeec." said Mrs. Tetterby. "Are you 



n f 



?•• 



aint 



AND THfi GHOST'S BARGAIN. 329 

The question sounded some discordant note in Mr. 
Tctterby's breast. He ruminated dejectedly, and passed his 
hand across and across his forehead. 

"Better!" murmured Mr. Tetterby. "I don't know as 
my of us are better, or hai)picr either. Better, is it ? " 

He turned to the screen, and traced about it with his 
nnger, until he found a certain paragraph of which he was in 
quest. 

"This usee to be one of the family favourites, I recollect," 
said Tetterby, in a forlorn and stupid way, "and used to 
draw tears from the children, anci make 'em good, if there 
was any little bickering or discontent among 'em, next to the 
story of the robin redbreasts in the wood. ' Melancholy case 
of destitution.— Yesterday a small man, with a baby in his 
arrns, and surrounded by half a dozen ragged little ones, of 
various ages between ten and two, the whole of whom were 
evidently in a famishing condition, appeared before the 
worthy magistrate, and made the following recital '—Ha ! I 
don't understand it, I'm sure," said Tetterby ; " I don't see 
what it has got to do with us." 

"How old and shabby he looks," said Mrs. Tel by, 
watching him. " I never saw such a change in a man. Ah 1 
dear me, dear me, dear me, it was a sacrifice ! " 

" What was a sacrifice ? " her husband sourly inquired. 

Mrs. Tetterby shook her head, and without replying in 
words, raised a complete sea-storm about the baby, by her 
violent agitation of the cradle. 

" If you mean your marriage was a sacrifice, my good 
woman " said her husband 

" I do mean it," said his wife. 

"Why, then I mean to say,'' pursued Mr. Tetterby, as 
sulkily and surlily as she, " that there are two sides to that 
affair ; and that / was the sacrifice, and that C wish the 
sacrifice hadn't been accepted." 

" I wish it hadn't, Tetterby, with all my heart and soul I 
do assure you," said his wife. " Vou can't wish it more than 
I do, Tetterby." 

"I don't kncY what I saw in her,*' muttered the newsman, 
■'■^ I'm sure ; certainly, if I saw anything, it's not there now. 
i was thinking sc last night, after supper, by the fire. She's 





ill 

(i 



330 THE HAUNTED MAN 

women"^ ^""^' '^' '''°"'' ^^' ^0"^Pa"son with most other 

hJ*^'''''''"'"'°""'°''^'*"«' ^^ ^^^ "° ^•'- with him, he's small 
'i cttc^^;""'"^ ''''''^' ""^ he's getting bald," muttered Mr. 

muttl"d"\r' 'l" tX^^ '^^' °"' ^' "^^ "-^ ^''-" I ^'d .;/ 
^ "My senses must have forsook me. That's the onlv Wav 

:?abo;:.ion."" """"" " •<' ■"^'^^'f-" -■" ^- 'ie..e%::^u', 

In this mood they sat down to breakfast. The little Tet- 
of/LT". "''^ habituated to regard that meal in the light 
trot r^W ^'^ occuption, but discussed it as a dance or 
u -iT u^' '■^-'^'^"^hlmg a savage ceremony in the occasional 
ShT^°P'' ""^ brandishings of bread and butter^S 
offrntothf f'T^!."'^'^',^' ^'^." ^' '■" '^' '"t^^'-te niings 
down ^h. H ^^f ^""^ u^.^? 'Sain, and the hoppings up and 
ance In ^h^''^'' "[^''^ ''''' '"^'^^""^^^ to the%erform- 
fh.?; T .. K EmT"' instance, the contentions between 
0.11 Tl^^ '^i'^''"" ^^'^ '^^ niilk-and-water jug, common 

an mstance of angry passions risen very high indeed that it 
was an outrage on the memory of Doctor WaUs 'l wa 

fron^i' ^'; ^'"'^^y '^^^ ^"^^" ^^^ -hole herd out a the 

front door that a moment's peace was secured ; and even 

tha was broken by the discovery that Johnnv h^d surrept" 

ou ly come back, and was at that instant choking inThe 

^ ^'4tr'i:-M°^"'''-',/"u^'^ '"^^""^ ^"d rapaciouf haste 
These children will be the death of me at last i " said 

tt^Tsr'aink/' '^"•■^'^'"^ ''' ^"^p"^- " ^"^ ^'- -- 

chiid^r^7:f 'Vh'"^*^-^'- "^""'f^y' "°"gh^ "°^ t° h^ve 
cniiaren at all. They give us no pleasure " 

T^f. ^ k'^''? !.' ^^f. moment taking up the cup which Mrs 
Tetterby had rudely pushed towards him, and Mrs Tetterbv 
was lifting her own cup to her lips, when 'they bo h stopped^ 
asifthey were transfixed. .^ "^""i stopped, 

" Here ! Mother ! Father ! » cried Johnny, running into fhe 
'''Tr:^ "H^'-^^Mrs. William coming dow^Jl the street }° 
And if ever, since the world began, a young boy took a 



AND THE r.HOST'S RARr.AIN -vi 

and .oothed it tenderly, and totter. d away with it cheerf ■ Iv 

hercupMr. lettcrby rubl.cd his fonjhcad ; M/s. Tcttt/Dv 

brighten ; Mrs Tcttcrln's began to smooth and brighten. 

what evil tempers have I been giving way to? What hai 
been the matter here?" ^ »natnas 

"How could I ever treat him ill again, after all I said and 
felt hst n.ght?" sobbed Mrs. Tettcrby, with her apron to h^r 

. " Am I a brute ? " said Mr. Tctterby ; « or is there any good 
in me at all ?— hophia ! My little woman I" 
^"Dolphu.i dear," returned his wife. 

iil^rT^''''',''V '" ' '^''^^' °^ "''"^'" sa'd Mr. Tetterby. 
that I can't abear to think of, Soi^liy." ^' 

"Oh ! It's nothing to what I ve been in, Dolf," cried his 
wife m a great burst of grief. 

"My Sophia," said Mr 1 etterby, " don't take on. I never 

know '°'"^''"''" "'^'''''^* ^ "'"'^ '''''''-' "^'■'''^y ^'''^'' y^"""" ^^'^'^' I 
•' No, Dolf, no. It was me ! Me ! ' cried Mrs. Tetterby 
My httle woman," said her husband, "don't. You make 
me reproach myself dreadful, when you show such a noble 
spirit Sophia, my dear, you don't know what I thought I 
showed It bad enough, no doubt; but what I thought,' my 
little woman ! " o > / 

" ph» dear Dol'f, don't ! Don't ! " cried his wife. 
Sophia,-' said Mr. Tetterby, " I must reveal it. I couldn't 
rest m my conscience unless I mentioned it. My little 
woman '' ^ 

"Mrs. William's very ncariy here !" screamed Johnny at 
the door. 

" My little woman, I wondered how," gasped Mr. 'ietterby 
supporting himself by hU chair-- 1 wondered how I had ever 
admired you. I forgot the precious children you have brought 
about me, and thought you didn't look as slim as I could 






If 



!il 




; Is *% 



332 TIIE HAUNTED MAN 

wish. T— T never gave a recollection," said Mr. Tetterby 
with severe self-accusation, "to the cares you've had as my 
wife and along of me and mine, when you might have had 
hardly any with another man, who got on better and was 
luckier than me (anybody might have found such a man 
easily, I am sure); and I quarrelled with you for having aeed 
a little m the rough years you've lightened for me. Can you 
believe it, my little woman ? I hardly can myself." 

Mrs. Tetterby, in a whirlwind of laughing and crying 
caught his face within her hands and held it there. 

"Oh, Dolf 1" she cried, " I am so happy that you thought 
so; I am so grateful that you thought so! For I thought 
that you were common-looking, Dolf; and so you are, my 
dear, and may you be the commonest of all sights in my 
eyes, till you close them with your own good hands I 
thought that you w.^r • small; and so you are, and I'll make 
much of you because you are, and more of you because I 
love my husband. I thought that you began to stoop; and 
so you do, and you shall lean on me, and I'll do all I can to 
keep you up. I thought there was no air about you • but 
there is, and it's the air of home, and that's the purest and 
the best there is, and God bless home once more, and all 
belonging to it, Dolf! " 

" Hurrah I Here's Mrs. William I " cried Johnny 
So she was and all the children with her; and as she 
came in, they kissed her, and kissed one another, and kissed 
H^e baby, and kissed their father and mother, and then ran 
back and flocked and danced about her, trooping on with her 
in tnumph. ° 

Mr. and Mrs. Tetterby were not a bit behind-hand in the 
warmth of their reception. They were as much attracted to 
her as the children were. They ran towards her, kissed her 
hands, pressed round her, could not receive her ardently or 
enthusiastically enough. She came among them like the 
spirit of all goodness, affection, gentle consideration, love, 
and domesticity. 

"What I are j^^u all so glad to see me, too, this briglit 
Christmas morning?" said Milly, clapping her hands in a 
pliant wonder. " Oh dear, how delightful this is ' » 

More shouting from the children, more kissing, more 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 333 

trooping round her, more happiness, more love, more joy 
mere honour, on all sides, than she could bear 

•« Oh dear! "said Milly, "what delicious tears you make 
me shed ! How can I ever have deserved this? What have 
1 done to be so loved ? " 



'• ^Vho can help it ? » cried Mr. Tetterby. 
•' Who can help it ? " cried Mrs. Tetterby. 



Who can help it?" echoed the children, in a joyful 
chorus. And they danced and trooped about her again, and 
clung to her, and laid their rosy faces against her dress, and 
kissed and fondled it, and could not fondle it or her enough 

I never was so moved," said MiUy, drying her eyes, "as 
I have been this morning. I must tell you, as soon as I car. 
bpeak. Mr Redlaw came to me at sunrise, and with a ten- 
derness in his manner, more as if I had been his darling 

S ' ! ", "'y:f ^^' "^^P^'^'-^'^i n^e to go with him to where 
\\ illiam s brother George is lying ill. We went together, and 
all the way along he was so kind, and so subdued, ana 
seemed to put such trust and hope in me, that I could not 
iielp crying with nleasure. \Vhen we got to the house, we 
met a woman at e door (somebody had bruised and hurt 
iier, 1 am airaid), who caught me by the hand, and blessed 
me as I passed." 

"She was right!" said Mr. Tetterby. Mrs. Tetterby said 
she was right. All the children cried out she was right 

Ah, but there's more than that," said Milly. " When we 
got upstairs into the room, the sick man, who had lain for 
hours in a state from which no effort could rouse him rose 
up in his bed, and bursting into tears, stretched out his'arms 
to me, and said that he had led a misspent life, but that he 
was truly repentant now, in his sorrow for the past, which 

!?' f f ?, u" ? ^,'"' ''' "" Sreat prospect, from which a dense 
black cloud had cleared away, and that he entreated me to 
ask his poor old father for his pardon and his blessing, and 
to say a prayer beside his bed. And when I did so, Mr. 
Kedlaw joined in it so fervently, and then so thanked and 
thanked me, and thanked Heaven, that my heart quite over- 
flowed, and I could have done nothing but sob and cry, if 
the sick man had not bo-red me to sit down by him u ! ion 
made me guiet, of course As J sat there, he held my haiid 



;i 



hi 




Hi 



334 THE HAUNTED MAN 

in his until he sunk in a doze ; and even then, when I with- 
drew my hand to leave him to come here (which xMr. Redlaw 
was very earnest mdeed in wishing me to do), his hand fdt 
for mme, so that some one else was obliged to take my place 

S"; P> "i'^iT *° ^r^-^ ^'™ "^y ^^"^ ^ack. Oh dear, oh 
dear ! said Milly. sobbmg. " How thankful and how happj' 
I should feei and do feel, for all this ! " 

While she was speaking, Redlaw had come in, and, after 
pausmg for a moment to observe the group of which she was 
the centre, had silently ascended the stairs. Upon those 
stairs he now appeared again, remaining there, while the 
young student passed him, and came running down. 

Kmd nurse gentlest, best of creatures," he said, fallin- 
on his knee to her, and catching at her hand, "forgive my 
cruel ingratitude I" ^ b ^ "») 

"Oh dear, oh dear!" cried Milly innocently, "here's 

t? wt l^uM T^^ ^^^'^ ^^'^'' somebody else who hkes 
me ! What shall I ever do ? " 

The guileless, simple way in which she said it, and in 
which she put her hands before her eyes and wept for very 
happiness, was as touching as it was delightful 

"I was not myself," he said. "I don't know what it wa« 
—It was some consequence of my disorder perhaps— I was 
niad. But I am so no longer. Almost as I speak I am re- 
stored. I heard the children crying out your name, and the 

wlif, P n'^"^ ?^°.?? "If ^^ t^^ v^'-y sound of it. Oh, don't 
weep! Dear Milly, if you could read my heart, and only 
know with what affection and what grateful homage it is 
glomng, you would not let me see you weep. It is such 
deep reproach." 

Ti.'"^°' "?'," ^^^,-^^%. "It's not that. It's not, indeed. 
Its joy. Its wonder that you should think it necessary to 

«'?^i'' ^n'^'^'' ^° ^^"^^' ^"^ yet it's pleasure that you do." 
curtain?" ^'°" ^^""^ ^^^^"'* ^"^ ""''" ^°" ^"'^^ ^^^ ^^"^^ 
^ ''No," said Milly, drying her eyes, and shaking her head 

YOU won t care for piy needlework now." 

" Is it forgiving me to say that ? " 

Sh^ beckoned him aside, and whispered in his ear. 
Ihere is news from your home, Mr. Edmund." 



my 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 335 

"News? How?" 

"Either your not writing when you were very ill, or the 
change m your handwriting when you began to be better, 

created some suspicion of the truth; however that is *- 

But you're sure you'll not be the worse for any news, if it's 
not bad news ? " 

"Sure." 

I' Then there's some one come ! " said Milly. 

"My mother?'^ asked the student, glancing round involun- 
tarily towards Redlaw, who had come down from the stairs 

" Hush ! No," said Milly. 

" It can be no one else." 

I' Indeed ? " said IMilly. « Are you sure ? " 

" It is not " Before he could say more she put her 

hand upon his mouth. 

"Yes, it is !" said Milly. "The young lady (she is very 
like the miniature, Mr. Edmund, but ihe is prettier) was too 
unhappy to rest without satisfying her doubts, and came up, 
last night, with a little servant-maid. As you always dated 
your letters from the college, she came there; and before 
I saw Mr. Redlaw this morning, I saw her. S,he likes me 
too ! " said Milly. " Oh dear, that's another ! " 

" This morning ! "WTiere is she now ? " 

" Why, she is now," said Milly, advancing her lips to his 
ear, ♦' in my little parlour in the Lodge, and waiting to see 
you." 

He pressed her hand, and was darting off, but she detained 
him. 

" Mr. Redlaw is much altered, and has told me this morning 
that his memory is impaired. Be very considerate to him, 
Mr. Edmund ; he needs that from us all." 

The young man assured her, by a look, that her caution 
was not ill-bestowed ; and as he passed the Chemist on his 
way out, bent respectfully and with an obvious interest before 
him. 

Redlaw returned the salutation courteously and even 
humibly, and looked after him as he passed on. He drooped 
his head upon his hand too, as trying to reawaken something 
he had lost. But it was gone. 

The abiding change that had come upon him since the in- 



ntml 



336 THE HAUNTED MA* 

fluenceof the music, and the Phantom's reappearance, was 
that now he truly felt how much ho had lost, and could co^ 
passionate h,s own condition, and contrast it, clearly, wh ■ 

mterest m those who were around him was revived, and a 

t^aM^TchT'T'™* ."'!"■'' ••^'''"'">' "-"^ bred, resembltg 
ire vI»l.nT r"' ^^'"^■"V!\^>i^-'• «h™ "s mental power" 

to^hetrofitS-Jit'lS!"''''"*- " "^""^""'^^ """s'a dded 
He was conscious tliat as he redeemed, through Millv 
more and more of the evil he had done, and as he was n oJ 

Therein: atd' »'"' ''" .''T'' ''^^'^^ ^^^'^^ -^"n "- 
Iherefore, and because of the attachment she inspired him 

with (but without other hope), he felt that he was^quhe de- 
pendent on her. and that she was his staff in his affliction 
bo, when she asked him whether they should go home 

reTdilv^roS ''' "i^ k"^" ^"'>^^ ^"^^-^ werefand": 
readily replied 'yes "—being anxious in that regard—he nut 

his arm through hers, and walked beside her;%ot as if^lc 

were the wise and learned man to whom th; wonde of 

mind, but as if their two positions were reversed and he 
knew nothing, and she all. ' ^ 

He saw the children throng about her, and caress her as 
he and she went away together thus, out of the house he 
heard the ringing of their laughter, and their mery voices 
he saw their bright faces, clustering round him like flo^^rs • 
he witnessed the renewed contentment and affection of Iher' 
parents; he breathed the simple air of their poor homi 

bhghrhVhadVh'd^^ ''h^""' ^' thrurholesome 

bl|ht he had shed upon it, and might, but for her, have been 
diffusing then ; and perhaps it is no ;onder that he waS 

to hTs'own!" '"'' ^"' '"' '"^^ ^^^ ^^^"^^^ bosom Nearer 

in Ws cha^rl^^?"'''^-'' '^' ^°^S"' '^^ «'^ ^^^ ^^s sittin, 
ground InHH- ^^^"^'^fy^^^^^r, with his eyes fixed on the 
fhe firt'X. 1?" ^^f '^^"^"§ ^g^"'st the opposite side of 
he fireplace, looking at him. As she came in at tV door 
botn started, and turned round towards her, and a radkim 
change came upon their faces rdaiaiu 



??7 

the 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 

"Oh dear, dear, dear, they are pleased to see me ! 
rest I cned MiUy, clapping her hands in an ecstasy, an. „.„^ 
pmg short " Here are two more ! " - --^^ 

Pleased to see her! Pleasure was no word for it. She 
ran mto her husband's arms, thrown wide open to receive 
her ; and he would have been glad to have her there, with her 
head lymg on his shoulder, through the short winter's day. 

t^a A^ J"^" 5°."^'^'?'^ 'P^''^ ^^'' He had arms for her 
too, and he locked her in them. 

" Yi^y» where has my quiet Mouse been all this time ? " said 
the old man. " She has been a long while away. I find that 
Its impossible for me to get on without Mouse. I— where's 
my son Wilham ?-I fancy I have been dreaming, William." 
That s what I say myself, father," returned his son. "7 
have l^en m an ugly sort of dream, I think. How are you. 
lather ? Are you pretty well ? " '^ 

" Strong and brave, my boy," returned the old man. 
It was quite a sight to see Mr. William shaking hands with 
his father, and patting him on the back, and rubbing him 
gently down with his hand, as if he could not possibly do 
enough to show an interest in him. 

f 2^}^\^ wonderful man you are, father ! How are you, 
father ? Are you really pretty hearty, though ? " said William 
shaking hands with him again, and patting him again, and 
rubbing him gently down again. 

1^' I never was fresher or stouter in my life, my boy " 
"What a wonderful man you are, father! But that's 

f^uS^ T.u'^'^^''n ?^^ ^^'- ^^^^"^^"'' ^'^h enthusiasm. 

When I think of all that my father's gone through, and all 
the chances and changes, and sorrows and troubles, that have 
happened to him in the course of his long life, and under 
which his head has grown grey, and years upon years have 
gathered on it, I feel as if we couldn't do enough to honour 
the old gentleman, and make his old age easy. How are 
you, father ? Are you really pretty well, though ? " 

Mr. William might never have left off repeating this in- 
quiry, and shaking hands with him again, and pattincr him 
again, and rubbing him down again, if the old man had not 
espied the Chemist, whom until now he had not seen 

"I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw," said Phiiip, "but didn't 




m 



ft 



338 THE HAUNTED MAN 

to remember that ; and I rermter k righ we I I do ZZ 
m7e dfed"" v;™- '' T ''''" ^"^ '=« heTe ''that my po^^ 

Tht c'hem^^tYrwred^;^? '""^ ""'■ ""'■ '^'^'"-'" 
rJliT^V ^"^ ""* ,°''' ""^- "She was a dear creetur- I 

bdv "? iT '"""^ ''T °"f C""^'""^ morning „hh a ^oun 
tody-I ask your pardon, Mr. Redlaw, hut I fhink it C a 
sister you was very much attached to ? " ^ " 

The Chemist looked at him, and shook his head "I 

« AnTrf w "^"^ ™'^.""y- He knew no more 
Une Chnstmas morning," pursued thp nM m,„ <..i, . 

1 was there, and I recollect, as I was stirring up the blaze fo 
out Tu"/ that' T. "T '^^ r ? ^^^^ ^y' ^' ^ ?ead^h;Tcro 

k a^d iff ? c. ^^""^ ""^^ P^^"" ^^^ fe" a-talking about 

Sidfboth K.- '^"^^ '^^S to think of now. that thiy S 
f^^i . •. ^^'"^ '° ""^^^^ ^° ^'e) that It was a good Draver 
and that it was one they would put up verv earned ?f T ' 
were called away young, with referencrS those i%oS 
dearest to them. ♦ My brother,' says the young ladv M 
husband, says mv ooor wiff» « t L^ i ^ ""? '^°y- -^^X 
me gree., an'd doUTet me^e 4"^f.^3 '^^ "^^"^°^ °^ 

• ,fu- ??-^^ P^"^"^ ^"^ "^ore bitter than he had ever ^hrd 
in all his life coursed down Redlaw's face Phfir. ff n 

am r inVt ^^^'^^' ^y^"g ^'' '^^"d upon his arm, "I 

fiS.n V, ^" Tt"' °" ^^°"^ *^^ hand of Providence ha 
fallen heavily, although deservedly. You speak to me mv 
fnend^ of what I cannot follow; my memor^S gone.'^ ' ^ 
Merciful Power I » cried the old man ^ 



AND THE CHOSrs BARGAIN. ,-;, 

said .he Chemis."'''"rd"'?X''h^?r,r' T"8- ^ '"'""t" 
remember." ' "" """ ^ ^^^ '°=' 'i" -"an would 

.rcIrSrtr w!l;t S [^a^d', '°l"? """ "•"-' "'' - 
a .solemn sense of hk herLV ? '' ''°"" "I'™ '>''" «i'h 

degree, how predous L nW ' """ '° ''"°»' '" ^o">e 

TkJi,„ precious to old age such rcco lections ire 

want't^." "^ """' ''•= -d- "'" "- o'her'ioom. I don't 
■'Hust'^.^ii'/SiJjr^-^"'"-''^''^'^-™'-- 

-i.hd?et"'Irtht"ve„T„'r' "^ """ "'^ ""i '•'"''er softly 
'" the bo> to come-t^Wm '• "'"""""'• ""'"''^ '-^''""''d 

.kirtl '■''' '"" """''" '^^'•" he answered, holding to her 

Of all the world, to you ^oo, child <■■'" «'••""" '"''" ' ^>- 

'o h« u°^ing" he^'^cott,!' «r ^ *"" ^'f ""'"S ""'« "^ '■•'"-= 
downathiffeet AsS , -^^PPf""*' ""^ <^^e" 'o si' 
of the chllXktg on him wkh^'' ''"' "[»" 'he shoulder 

feeling, he put out i°s"oA" I'lndTS" Sh^,.'^"°"; 
down on that sidp of K;rv, It . -^^iiny. bhe stooped 

face, and afto st„ce'ilid,- "" ''' '=""''* '"<"' '"'° ^is 

" V '■ ,?edlaw, may I speak to you ? » 

and mJ;ic\^r:ThTsfme"ne'" ''"' "P°" '"■ " ^°" ™ice 
"wStVou\Sy°'""'"'"^'" 

doTr^t'nighT^'Mouron ^ I"''' ""^^"^ ' ''"°^'<«' >" ^o"-' 

.vho stood ot'the X'jzi':j::r' "'"' ""-'-" 
•'D?yo;t';;rrst?;d i?;?'"' "'* ^°- '■-''--• 

«ha^%?d°root hl\S^ "^■■'' '-"-« - •'er fixedly the 
•This person." said Milly, in her clear, soft voice, which 



II ■, H 



34© THE HAUNTED MAN 

her mild eyes, looking at him, made clearer and softer " 
found soon afterwards I went back to the house, and! wit 
Heaven's help, traced him. I was not too soon. A ve 
httle, and I should have been too late " 

^Lr ^T"* ""^ ¥•■'' ^^°'^ ^'""^ ^"^ yet earnest touci 
addressed him no ess appealingiy than her voice and eyc^ 
looked more mtently on her. ^ 

"He /> the father of Mr. Edmund, the young gentlemat 

" I 1 collect the name." 
"And the man?" 

" Y °: iT' ^^ "^^"- ^^^ ^e ^'^'er wrong me ? » 

" Ah ! Then it's hopeless — hopeless " 
He shook his head, and softly beat upon the hand he held 
as ^hough mutely asking her commiseration. ' 

" You wni H°.' ^1 *° ^^'- ^l"'""^ ^^'^ "ight," said Milly- 
^ You will listen to me just the same as if you did remember 

" To every syllable you say." 

K,c"fT»?°'^ ^^^'u"^^ ^ "^'"^ "°* ^"°^ then that this really was 
his father, and because I was fearful of the effect of such in- 
telligence upon him after his illness, if it should be. sTnce I 
have known who this person is, I have not gone eitherTbu 

Ss V^e Lr.o ^ 'r°K ^' ^'' ^°"S been separated from 
tvL Ik- ?".-h^ been a stranger to his home almost 
irom this son's infancy, I learn from him-and has aban 

In all that time he has been falling from the state of a gentle- 
man more and more, until » She rose up hastily! and 

?F?'r^P°;; ^"""u .""ST"^ '■"'"'^^^' accompanied by the wreck 
that Redlaw had beheld last night. 

;*r)o you know me?" asked the Chemist. 

1 should be glad," returned the other— "and that is ir 

unwonted word for me to use-if I could answer no. ' 

ment .nH T''^ I'^^^^u'- '^^ ^^"' '^^''•^^"g »" self^base- 
ment and degradation before him, and would have looked 

longer, m an ineffectual struggle for enlightenment, bmthat 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. ,4, 

"See how low hi- is sunk ! how lost he is » » sHp u-K.cr^ ^ 

nected with hfm do v™? nn, h^^ r™ember all iha. is con- 
.0 reflect ^l^ZV-"":,X^:^l'l'':^, T"^ '""i f'^ 

"I hope it wotild," he answered. " I believe it would " 
as if he strove to 1^»,7 1^ i "" "'j°'" •"•■ 8"^^'^ intently 

voice and ':::; tam™f;re,':r" '™' '''" '°"<^ "^ '■- 

"I an!"'not"user,oTh\"'' ^"^ ^'^'^ """'^" «"'<i "'"y; 
May I tell vou whv^-t . ' ^'^ "''' '''™>'' "''"l<'"g 

re^Lr „rn;fh^arhSren'°do':;: 'j^ "'^"^ ^- - - 

" That we may forgive it " 

He cannot go to his abandoned hoir^e He dn« „„, 
seek to go there He knows that he could only car^ shame 
and trouble to those he has so cruelly neglecLd and Z? 

A ve^.1-t7"'"°" ''' "^" ™'"= "'<=™ "Vis to aJd them 
A ver>. httle money, carefully bestowed, woi Id remZ h n,T„' 

T.T ''f ""' !!''"■ "''"'= '"= •"'■Pht 1 ve and do no wronl 

tion mf„^ iu^^""^^' ^"^ t° him, shattered in reputa- 
tion, mmd, and body, it might be salvatioa" ^ 




fi 



^ 



34a THE HAUNTED MAN 

Jd^-^uiI}?H^f'^ ^^r"" ^'^ ^^"^« ^"d kissed it, an, 
said, It shall be done. I trust to you to do it fr • me no, 

and secretly; and to tell him that I would forgive h"m if 
were so happy as to know for what." ^ ' 

As she rose, and turned her beaming face towards th, 
fallen man. implying that her mediation h^ad b^en s^^ess u 

hfm^einrR^dl^^^^^^^ ^"' ^'^'°"' ^^'^'"« '^^ ^^-' ^^^-- 

you wm t^to'L^ir""''" ^'- ^'^-"y«" ever were-tha, 
spectacle 7hl? .'f h r ^°"'" "''"i^J^^'^ ^f retribution in th. 
Sf Redlaw fr '^ ^'^"' kV^° "°^ ''y '° b^^-'^h it frcr, 
^?t ' /ir^ .^- " y°" c^"' believe me." 

to hJm T"' T^'f^'^^ ^^'"y' ^y ^ gesture, to come nearer 
o h.m ;, and, as he listened, looked in her f;ce, as if to find 
m It the clue to what he heard. 

" I am too decayed a wretch to make professions ; I recol- 

iiut from the day on which I made my first step downward 
m dealing falsely by you. I have gone^lown wSh a ce ta n 
steady, doomed progression. Thai I sav " ' 

Redlaw, keeping her close at his side, turned his fare 
towards the speake- and there was sorrow n it SomethW 
like mournful recognition too. ^omtthmg 

"I might have been another man / life murhf u^.r^ 
been another life, if I had avoided ")-' fn- fataltten^^^^ 

me possibihty. Your sister is at rest, and better than sh. 
could have been with me, if I had .ondnued even w^ 
you thought me-even what I once supposed myself to be ' 
Redlaw made a hasty motion with his handrU if he 
would have put that subject on one side. 

mve '^"^^hn!!?^ °K^'' """"i °"' "^'^^ ^ "^^" ^^ken from the 
rn^'beentrlL'SLTdtan^^^^ ^'^^^' '-' "^^^^' '^' 

brilS' '"That's :n:LT^^°°-'"^°''^' ^^"^^' -^- '- 

forlreaf But^'tL^"' ""''"'^ 'V''''' ^"^'' '^^^ "'g^^ ^^en 
lor oread. Uut, to^ay, my recollection of what has been 

^mZZ H «°^^^°"gly /tirred, and is presented to .ne,? 
aont know how, 50 vividly, that I have dared to come a't 



AND THE GHOSTS BARGAIN. ,., 

as merciful to me iS' vour I'J"Ji;°"''' ''^'"K hour, to'be 
deeds." 5^°" thoughts as you are in your 

his"Vrr*. '""""^ *^ "^«"' ««■ "oPPed a mon,en, on 

I hoie''rra';de'L"?'to"?oTo Tr I" '"^ """'"'^ -"- 
preserved a long .I^Ta^ri I h m" "'' ">>■ ''f"^ *'^°"'d L-- 

Red^awf w°h se' «Sst'Lr ''•f^''^ f-""«"' "-. 
held ou his hLd Her«^4,T ^^^ T" ''™' ^''■'"'^y 
-with both hTs own^ InrfT r"'' 'T^^ "-«"'« "•"''e 
slowly out. ' '^ '^'"'''"8 "^o*" l>is head, went 

hi^^^th:v"^e°Th?c!;:' tf r- "^"^ *^'"y ^''-'^ t-" 

covered his Ice w th his handl s?*^" 1,"'° 'l'^ '=^"- ""d 
came back, accompanfcd bv ht h,fr"? *"'? J"?"'' "hen she 
were both gr.>atly concerned fnr V ^"u ^""^ ^" <■"""=' («ho 
him, or peFmit KmTo t. J- / 2' f^ ^^'''^d disturbing 
near the chair to Lf-,.^»T'??' """^ ''"^^''='' d"wn 

"That's eicdy where it r Th";!"^ T "i* ''"y- 
father!" exclaimed hfn JV-' • . ' *'^' ' always say, 

motherly k^^^ m,s wSf hr "^'f ."k"^ " ''''"^■^ » 
have went I » "^' ""*' ">«' and will 

^Vm^-sXhV^ *' "'"^ ■»»• "y°"'« right. My son 

Mr! wtLtriJ '-Ih^^'' "'i"^ <^-'> - doubt," said 
own ; and yet I someti,,,!^ T """"l "° <^hildren of our 
cheri'sh. Jur 1 tt e dtd chHrt ,/? ^^"^.""^ '° '"^ «"<» 
"pon, and tha never br^thSi ?k T" ^"' ""=•> hopes 
'nade you quiet-like, Miu;^ ' ^"^ °' ^'^"-'^ ^ 

shrjnl^^e^S' "^T^nk^f i:^^ S^ '^ ^™- dear," 
" lo^. f ""'d y?u thought of it a go^d deal." 

in so many 4f ""k'i '' " "°'"''°'L'.'° "^ ^ " ^P^^^ 'o ">« 
-th. is^Vrangl^'tVrer^^^iir"^ "-' -- '-ed on 





S44 THE HAUNTED MAN 

" You are like an angel to father and mc," said Mr. William 
softly. •' I know that." 

" When I think of all those hopes I built upon it, and tlv 
many times I sat and pictured to myself the little sniiliiu 
(ace upon my bosom that never lay there, and the swcJ 
eyes turned up to mine that never ojjened to the light," sai.i 
Milly, "I can feel a greater tenderness, I think, for all tli. 
disappointed hopes in which there is no harm. When i st. 
a beautiful child in its fonJ mother's arms, I love it all the 
better, thinking that my rhild might have been like that, and 
might have maHc uiy iieart as proud and ha^jp^-." 

Redlaw raised m's head, and looked towards her. 

"All through life, it seems by mo," she continued, "to tell 
me somethirig. For poor neglected children, my little child 
pleads as if it were alive, and had a voice I know with which 
fo speak to me. When I hear of youth in suffering or shamo, 
I think that my child might have come to that, perhaps, and 
that God took it from me in His mercy. Even in age and 
grey hair, such as father's, it is present, saying that it, too. 
might have lived to be old, long and long after you and I 
were gone, and to have needed tlie respect and love oi 
younger people." 

Her quiet voice was quieter than ever, as she took ho; 
husband's arm, and laid her head against it. 

" Children love me so, that sometimes I half fancy— it's a 
silly fancy. William— they have some way I don't know of, 
of feeling for my little child, and me, and understanding why 
their love is precious to me. If I have been quiet since, 1 
have been more happy, William, in a hundred ways. Not 
least happy, dear, in this— that even when my little child was 
born and dead but a few oays, and I was weak and sorrow 
ful, and could not help grieving a little, the thought arose, 
that if I tried to lead a good life, I should meet in Heaven a 
bright creature, who would call me Mother ! " 

Redlaw fell upon his knees with a loud cry. 

" O Thou," he said, " who, through the teaching of pure 
love, hast graciously restored me to the memory which was 
the memory of Christ upon the cross, and of all the good wh: 
perished in His cause, receive my thanks, and bless her ! " 

Then he toided he/ lo his heart ; and Milly, sobbrnt^ Uiorc 



AND THE GHOST'S BARGAIN. 345 

than ever, cried, as she laughed, "He is f ome back to him- 
self! He likes me very much indeed, too ! Oh, dear, dear, 
dear me, here's another ! " 

Then the student entered, leading i)y the hand a lovely 
girl, who was afraid to come. And Redlaw, i,^ changed 
towards him, seeing in him and in his youthful choice the 
softened shadow of that chastening passage in hs^ own life, 
to which, as to a shady tree, the dove so long imprisoned in 
his solitary ark miglit tly for rest ond comi)anv, fell upon his 
neck, entreating them to be his children. 

Then, as Christmas is a time in which, 01 all times in 
the year, the memory of every remediable sorrow, wrong, 
and trouble in the world around us, should be activ.- with 
us, not less than our own ex[x;riences, for all good, he laid 
his hand upon the boy, and, sileitly calling Him to witness 
who laid His hand on children in old time, rebuking, in the 
majesty of His prophetic knowledge, those who kept them 
from Him, vowed to protect him, teach him, and reclaim inm. 
Then he gave his right hand cheerily to iniilip. and said 
that they would that day hold a Christmas dinner in what 
used to be, before the ten poor gentlemen commuted, their 
great Dinner Hall ; and that they would bid to it as many 
of that Swidger family (who, his son had told him, were so 
numerous that they might join hands and make a ring round 
England) as could be brought together on so short a notice. 

And It was that day done. Thera were so iD.inv Swidgers 

there, grown up and children, that an attempt : -> state them 

m round numbers might engender doubts, in if,rt distrustful, 

of the veracity of this history. Therefore the .ttvompt shall 

not be made. But there they were, by dozens and scores. 

And there was good news and good hope there, ready for 

them, of George, who had been v-isited again by his father 

and brother, and by Milly, and again left in a quiet sleep 

I here, present at the dinner, too, were the Tetterbys, in^ 

eluding young Adolphus, who arrived in liis prismatic com- 

i jrter, m good time for the beef. Johnny and the babv 

were too late, of course, and came in all on one side the 

one exhausted, the other in a supposed state of double-tooth ; 

out that was customary, and not alarming. 

It was sad to see the child who had no name or lineage 



34« 



THE HAUNTED MAN. 




watching the otner children as they played, not knowing how 
to talk with them, or sport with them, and more strange to 
the ways of childhood than a rough dog. It was sad, though 
in a different way, to see what an instinctive knowledge the 
youngest children there had of his being dififerent from all 
the rest, and how they made timid approaches to him with 
soft words and touches, and with little presents, that he 
might not be unhappy. But he kept by Milly, and began to 
love her— that was another, as she said !— and, as they all 
hked her dearly, they were glad of that, and when they saw 
him peeping at them from behind her chair, they were pleased 
that he was so close to it. 

AH this the Chemist, sitting with the student and his 
bride that was to be, and Philip, and the rest, saw. 

Some people have said since, that he only thought what 
has been herein set down j others, that he read it in the fire, 
one winter night about the twilight time; others, ihat the 
Ghost was but the representation of his gloomy thoughts, and 
Milly the embodiment of his better wisdom. I say nothing. 
— Except this. That as they were assembled in the old 
Hall, by no other light than that of a great fire (having 
dined early), the shadows once more stole out of their 
hiding-places, and danced about the room, showing the 
children marvellous shapes and faces on the walls, and 
gradually changing what was real and familiar there to 
what was wild and magical. But that there was one thing 
m the Hall, to which the eyes of Redlaw, and of Milly and 
her husband, and of the old man, and of the student, and 
his bride that was to be, were often turned, which the 
shadows did not obscure or change. Deepened in its 
gravity by the firelight, and gazing from the darkness of 
.he panelled wall like life, the sedate face in the portrait, 
with the beard and ruff, looked down at them from under 
ts verdant wreath of holly, as they looked up at it; and, 
clear and plain below, a^ if a voice had uttered them, were 
the words, — 

" Lord, keep my memory green ! '* 



THE END OF "THE HAUNTED MAN.** 



anu 



7 HE BATTLE OF LIFE 
A Love Story 



[ImiI 



III 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



PART THE FIRST. 

ONCE upon a time, it matters little when, and in stalwart 
fonahf 7.^^^"^'/^ "jatte" ^»"le where, a fierce battle was 
fought. It was fought upon a long summer day when the 
waving gra^s was green. Many a wild flower, formed by 
he Almighty Hand to be a perfumed goblet fc the dew 
elt Its enamelled cup filled high with blood that" ^y, and' 
sh inking, dropped. Many an insect, deriving its delicate 

fh ?"h' T i"^""^''' ^'^''^' ^"^ ^'^'^ ^^ stained anew 
that day by dying men, and marked its frightened way with 

an unnatural track. The painted butterfly^ook blood Tnto 

Th/trnnr *^' '^T °^ "^ ^^"SS. The stream ran red 
nil ^'^^^f.e" g'jo^nd became a quagmire, whence, from sullen 

hoo thi "'""^ '" '^?- ^T' °^ h""^^" fe^t ^"d horses" 
atThe sun """^ P'^^^'^^"S hue still lowered and glimmered 

Heaven keep us from a knowledge of the sights the moon 

lin^ of T? !^'- -^"^^^ ^^^"' ^°"^'"g "P ^bove the blS 
line of distant rising ground, softened and blurred at the 
edge by trees, she rose into the sky and looked upon the 
plain, strewn with upturned faces that had once at mothers' 
.reasts sought mothers' eyes, or slumbered happily. Heaven 
umn "fllT- ^^"o^^dge of the secrets whispered afterwards 
upon the tainted wind that blew across the scene of that 
days work and that night's death and suffering I Many a 
tonely moon was bnght upon the batUe^round. and mai^a 



350 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 




Star kept mournful watch upon it, and many a wind from 
every quarter of the earth blew over it, before the traces oi 
the fight were worn away. 

They lurked and lingered for a long time, but survived in 
little things ; for Nature, far above the evil passions of men. 
soon recovered her serenity, and smiled upon the guilty 
battle-ground as she had done before when it was innocent. 
The larks sang high above it, the swallows skimmed and 
dipped and flitted to and fro, the shadows of the flying 
clouds pursued each other swiftly over grass and corn and 
turnip-field and wood, and over roof and church spire in the 
nestling town among the trees, away into the bright distance 
on the borders of the sky and earth where the red sunsets 
faded. Crops were sown, and grew up, and were gathered 
in ; the stream that had been crimsoned turned a water- 
mill ; men whistled at the plough ; gleaners and haymakers 
were seen in quiet groups at work; sheep and oxen pastured; 
boys whooped and called, in fields, to scare away the birds ; 
smoke rose from cottage chimneys; Sabbath bells rang peace- 
fully ; old people lived and died ; the timid creatures of the 
field, and simple flowers of the bush and garden, grew and 
withered in their destined terms ; and all upon the fierce and 
bloody battle-ground, where thousands upon thousands had 
been killed in the great fight. 

But there were deep green patches in the growing corn 
at first that people looked at awfully. Year after year they 
reappeared, and it was known that underneath those fertile 
spots heaps of men and horses lay buried indiscriminately, 
enriching the ground. The husbandmen who ploughed those 
places shrunk from the great worms abounding there ; and 
rhe sheaves they yielded were, for many a long year, called 
the Battle Sheaves, and set apart ; and no one ever knew a 
Battle Sheaf to be among the last load at a Harvest Home. 
For a long time every furrow that was turned revealed some 
fragments of the fight. For a long time there were wounded 
irees upon the battle-ground; and scraps of hacked and 
broken fence and wall, where deadly struggles had been 
made ; and trampled parts, where not'a leaf or blade would 
grow. For a long time no village girl would dress her hair 
or bosom with the sweetest flower from that field of death; 






THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 351 

and after many a year had come and gone, the berries crow- 

the lapse of t.me, even these remains of the old conflTct and 
wore away such legendary traces of it as the rSghbouHng 

K'S^f H-'"l '^''' "^^"k^^' ""^" '^^y dwindled imo 2 
wives tales, dimly remembered round the winter fire and 

wamng every year. Where the wild flowers and berries had 

so long remamed upon the stem untouched, gardens arose 

and houses were built, and children played at battles on the 

Ind hlJin h""^'"^ ^T' ^^^ ^°"g ^g° '"^de Christmas logs! 
and blazed and roared away. The deep green patches were 
no greener now than the memory of thofe who ky in dust 
below. The ploughshare still tu^ed up from time lo time 
some rusty bits of metal; but it was hard to say what u^e 
hey had ever served, and those who found them wondered 
and disputed An old dinted corselet and a helmet had Sn 
hanging m the church so long, that the same weak half-bhnd 
old man who tned in vain to make them out above the whi?e 
washed arch had marvelled at them as a baby If the hos 
skin upon the field could have been for a mom'ent rLnimat°d 

L K ?Tk" ""'^'"^^ '^^y ^^"' ^^^^ "P«" the spot that was 
the bed of his untimely death, gashed and ghis^ly soldfers 
would have stared in, hundreds deep, at household !or 
and window; and would have risen on the hearthsl^ . ie 
homes; and would have been the garnered store of ba^ 
and granaries; and would have sorted up between tTe 
cradled infant and its nurse; and would have floS^th 
the stream, and whirled round on the mill, and crowded the 
orchard, and burdened the meadow, and piled Te rickyird 

whte'tt "^'J "^'"- v'° ^''^''^ "^ ^h^ battfe-grS 
greS fight "^" °'''^"^' ^^^ ^^^" ^'"^d i^ ^^ 

aJ'Jhf'n'^ more altered perhaps, about a hundred yeare 
ago than in one little orchard attached to an old stone house 

mf therr^'"'^'' ^7'^;' ^^^^^' °" ^ b"ght autumn morn' 

girls danced merrily together on the grass, while some half 

12 



H: 




11 

i I 

I 

i 
I 



352 THE BATTLE OF LIFE, 

dozen peasant women standing on ladders, gathering th. 
apples from the trees, stopped in their work to look dowi 
and share their enjoyment. It was a pleasant, lively, natura 
scene, a beautiful day, a retired spot; and the two girls 
quite unconstrained and careless, danced in the very freedon 
and gaiety of their hearts. 

If there were no such thing as display in the world, m^ 
private opinion is, and I hope you agree with me, that v,\ 
niight get on a great deal better than we do, and might bt 
infinitely more agreeable company than we are. It wa< 
charming to see how these girls danced. They had nc 
spectators but the apple-pickers on the ladders. They were 
very glad to please them, but they danced to please them- 
selves (or at least you would have supposed so) ; and you 
could no more help admiring than they could help dancing. 
How they did dance 1 ^ 

Not like opera dancers. Not at all. And not like Madame 
Anybody's finished pupils. Not the least. It was not 
quadrille dancing, nor minuet dancing, nor even country- 
dance dancing. It was neither in the old style, nor the new 
style, nor the French style, nor the English style, though it 
may have been, by accident, a trifle in the Spanish style, 
which IS a free and joyous one, I am told, deriving a delight- 
lui air of off-hand inspiration from the chirping little castanets. 
As they danced among the orchard trees, and down the groves 
of stems and back again, and twiried each other lightly round 
and round, the influence of their airy motion seemed to 
spread and spread, in the sun-lighted scene, like an expand- 
ing circle in the water. Their streaming hair and flutterin<- 
skirts, the elastic grass beneath their feet, the boughs tha" 
rustled m the mc-ning air— the flashing leaves, their speckled 
shadows on the soft green ground— the balmy wind that 
swept along the landscape, glad to turn the distant windmill, 
cheerily,— everything between the two girls and the man and 
team at plough upon the ridge of land, where they showe 
against the sky as if they were the last things in the worUi 
seemed dancing too. 

At last the younger of the dancing sisters, out of breath 
and laughing gaily, threw herself upon a bench to rest The 
other leaned against a tree hard by. The music, a wander- 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 353 

ing harp and fiddle, l.ft off with a flourish, as if it boasted 
of Its freshness ; though, the truth is, it had gone at such a 
pace and worked itself to such a pitch of competition with 
the dancing, that ,t never could have held on hSf a m.nute 
monger. The apple-pickers on the ladders raised a hum and 
murmur of applause, and then, in keeping with the sound 
bestirred themselves to work again like bc?s. ' 

The more actively, perhaps, because an elderly gentle- 

nTrJ?'!^ "°u'^''' '^^" ^°^^°^ J^^^^'^'- himsclf_it was 
Doctor Jeddler's house and orchard, you should know and 
these were Doctor J.ddler's daughtcrsicame bustling oufto 
see what was the matter, and who the deuce played mus c 

pher'XTof fedd "^' 'T''^"^^' ''°^ ^^ ^^^ ' ^^at phiC 
^ u ix • Jeddler, and not very musical. 

Music and dancing /o-day/" said the Doctor, stopping 
short, and speak mg to himself; "I thought they d eadTd t"^ 
M^-- ^nl u' ^ '"^""^^ of contradictions, \\-hy, Grace w'v 
Manon!" he added aloud, "is the world mire mad han 
usual this morning?'' " 

"Make sonie allowance for it, father, if it be," replied his 
I'oungpr daughter, Marion, going close to him, and looking 
into his face, ** for it's somebody's birthday " ^ 

" Somebody's birthday, Puss,' replied the Doctor. « Don't 
you know It's always somebody's birthday? Did you ncv"i 
hear how many new performers enter on this-ha I ha ' ha ' 

^T-T^T''^u ^- 'P^^^ ^'^^'^'y of it-on this preposterous 
and r diculous busmess called Life every minute?" 
No, father ! " 

"No, not you of course ; you're a woman— almost " said 
he Doctor. " By-the-bye," and he looked into the prSty 
face, still close to his, "I suppose it's^^^^r birthday." ^ ^ 
No! Do you really, father?" cried his pet daughter 
purs.ng up her red lips to be kissed. ^ "augnier, 

_ "There! Take my love with it," said the Doctor, imprint- 
ing his upon them; "and many happy returns of the-the 
■aca;— of tne day. The notion of wishing happy returns in 
g^^ ajarce^as this," said the Doctor to himse^f^is gC^" 

^^"^h^'J^i^^^U"^* ^' ^ ^^""^ ^'^' ^ g^e^t philosopher ; 
and the heart and mystery of his philosophy was to look 



3$4 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 




upon the world as a gigantic practical joke— as something 
toe absurd to be considered seriously by any rational man. 
His system of belief had been, in the beginning, part and 
parcel of the battle-ground on which he lived, as you shall 
presently understand. 

"Weill But how did you get the music?" asked the 
Doctor, " Poultry -stealers, of course. Where did the 
minstrels come from ? " 

^ "Alfred sent the music," said his daughter Grace, adjust- 
mg a few simple flowers in her sister's hair, with which, in lier 
admiration of that youthful beauty, she had herself adorned 
it half an hour before, and which the dancing had dis- 
arranged. 

"Oh! Alfred sent the music, did he?" returned the 
Doctor. 

" Yes. He met it coming out of the town as he was enter- 
ing early. The men are travelling on foot, and rested there 
last night ; and as it was Marion's birthday, and he thought 
it would please her, he sent them on, with a pencilled note 
to me, saying that, if I thought so too, they had come to 
serenade her." 

"Ay, ay," said the Doctor carelessly; "he always takes 
your opinion." 

"And my opinion being favourable," said Grace good- 
humouredly, and pausing for a moment to admire the pretty 
head she decorated, with her own thrown back, "and Marion 
being in high spirits, and beginning to dance, I joined her ; 
and so we danced to Alfred's music till we were out of 
breath. And we thought the music all the gayer for being 
sent by Alfred. Didn't we, dear Marion ? " 

"Oh, I don't know, Grace. How yop teaze me about 
Alfred/' 

"Teaze you by mentioning your lover ! " . d her sister. 

" I um sure I don't much care to have him mentioned," 
said the wilful beauty, stripping the petals from some flowers 
she held, and scattering them en the ground. " I am almost 
tired of hearing of him ; and as to his being my lover " 

' Kush ! Don't speak lighdy of a true heart, which is all 
your cwn, Marion," cried her sister, "even in jest. There 
IS not a truer heart than Alfred's in the world 1 " 



the 



THE BArrLE OF LiifE, 355 

"No— no," said Marion, raising her eyebrows with a 
pleasant air of careless consideration; "perhaps not But 

Jon'twantT ^L^'"^'^ ^^ great' Jrit TikT 1^1 
don t want h,m to be so very true. I never asked hin, If 

.Ic?i J? ^'^?^^^^ ^? s^e the graceful figures of the blooming 

s^ ers, twined together, lingering among^he trees, convex nf 

In^ 7^ f ^"fstness opposed to lightness, ye wkh lovf 

esponding tenderly to love. And it was ver; curious indeed 

to see the younger sister's eyes suffused with °ears and 

something fervently and deeply felt breaking throuaS tV 

wilfulness of what she said, an^striving wfth it'pSXl^ '" 

The difference between them, in respect of age. could not 

exceed four years at most; but Grace, as often hapnensTn 

such cases when no mother watches o4r both (the Doctor's 

sister, and in the steadiness of her devotion to her olde? 

han she was, and more removed, in course of nature, fom 
all competition with her, or participation, otherwise th^ 

hrough her sympathy and true affection, 'in her way;a?d 
fancies, than their ages seemed to warrant Great charr^er 
of mother, that, even in this shadow and faint reflection of 

lhe^a"ngels ! ^""^ '""'^^^ ^^^ ^''''^^^'^ "^^""^ "^^^^ 'o 

h J!5\^°''^°''' reflections, as he looked after them, and 
heard the purport of their discourse, were limited, at fiwt to 

and /hJ^^hP "^^^'^'-^^^^"^ «" the folly of all loves Lnd likings, 
and the idle imposition practised on themselves by young 
people, who believed, for a moment, that there could bS 
cefved-alwaT '" '"""^ ^^^^^^> and were always unde- 

But the home-adorning, self-denying qualities of Grace, 
and her sweet temper, so gentle and retiring, yet including so 
much constancy and bravery of spirit, seemed all expressed 
nnH ;!f .'"r^u-^ ''''"^'^' ^^^'^^^" her quiet household figure 
?nl r I ^^ r""^^' """^ "'"'■^ beautiful child ; and he was 
sorry for her sake-sorry for them both-that life should be 
sudli a very ridiculous business as it was. 

The Doctor never dreamed of inquiring whether his chil- 



356 THB BATTLE OF LIFE. 

dren, or either of them, helped in any way to make the 
scheme a serious one. But then he was a Philosopher. 

A kind and generous man by nature, he had stumbled, by 
chance, over that common Philosopher's stone (much more 
easily discovered than the object of the alchemist's researches ), 
which sometimes trips up kind and generous men, and has 
the fatal property of turning gold to dross, and every precious 
thing to poor account. 

" Britain ! " cried the Doctor. " Britain ! Halloa ! " 

A small man, with an uncommonly sour and discontented 
face, emerged from the house, and returned to this call the 
unceremonious acknowledgment of " Now then ! " 

" Where's the breakfast-table ? " said the Doctor. 

"In the house," returned Britain. 

"Are you going to spread it out here, as you were told 
last night ? " said the Doctor. " Don't you know that there 
are gentlemen coming? That there's business to be done 
this morning before the coach comes by? That this is a 
very particular occasion ? " 

" I couldn't do anything, Doctor Jeddler, till the women 
had done getting in the apples, could I ? " said Britain, his 
voice rising with his reasoning, so that it was very loud at 
last. 

" Well, have they done now ? " returned the Doctor, looking 
at his watch, and clapping his hands. " Come ! make haste ! 
Where's Clemency ? " 

" Here am I, Mister," said a voice from one of the ladders, 
which a pair of clumsy feet descended briskly. " It's all done 
now. Clear away, gals. Everything shall be ready for you 
in half a minute. Mister." 

With that she began to bustle about most vigorously, pre- 
senting, as she did so, an appearance sufficiently peculiar to 
justify a word of introduction. 

She was about thirty years old, and had a sufficiently 
plump and cheerful face, thojgh it was twisted up into an 
odd expression of tightness that made it comical. But th 
extraordinary homeliness of her gait and manner would have 
superseded any face in the world. To say that she had two 
left legs and somebody else's arms, and that all four limbs 
seemed to be out of joint, and to stirt from perfecdy wrong 



rilK HATILK Op J.IFE. 357 

places whcr they were set in motion, is to offer the mildest 
outline of the reality. To say that she was perfectly content 
and satisfied with these arrangements, and regarded them as 
being no business of hers, and took her arms and legs a.^ 
liiey came, and allowed them to dispose of themselves just 
as it happened, is to render faint justice to her equanimity. 
Her dress was a prodigious |)air of self-wiikd shoes, that never 
wanted to go where lier feet went, blue stockings, a printed 
gown of many colours, and the most hideous paiti:rn pro- 
curable for money, and a white apron. She always wore 
short sleeves, and always had, by some accident, grazed 
elbows, in which she took so lively an interest that she was 
continually trying to turn them round and get impossible 
views of them. In general, a little cap perched somewhere 
on her head, though it was rarely to be met with in the 
place usually occupied in other subjects by that article of 
dress ; but from head to foot she was scrupulously clean, 
and maintained a kind of dislocated tidiness. Indeed her 
laudable anxiety to be tidy and compact in her own con- 
science as well as in the public eye, gave rise to one of her 
most startling evolutions, which was to grasp herself some- 
times by a sort of wooden handle (part oi her clothing, and 
familiarly called a busk), and wrestle as it were with her gar- 
ments, until they fell into a symmetrical arrangement. 

Such, in outward form and garb, was Clemency Newcome, 
who was supposed to have unconsciously originated a cor- 
ruption of her own Christian name from Clementina (but no- 
body knew, for the deaf old mother, a very phenomenon of 
age, whom she had supported almost from a child, was dead, 
and she had no other relation) ; who now busied herself i 
preparing the table, and who stood, at intervals, with her bare 
red arms crossed, rubbing her grazed elbows v.ah opposite 
hands, and staring at it very composedly, until she suddenly re- 
membered s(jmething else it wanted, and jogged off to fetch it 

" Here are them two lawyers a-coming, Mister," said Clem* 
ency, in a tone of no very great good-will. 

" Aha I " cried the Doctor, advancing to the gate to meet 
them. "Good morning, good morning! Grace, my dear! 
Marion ! Here are Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs. Where's 
Alfred «»" 






!H n 



35^ THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

"HeM be back directly, father, no doubt," said Grace 
"He had so much to do this morning in his preparation? 
for departure, that he was up and out by daybreak. Goo<i 
morning, gentlemen." 

"Ladies I" said Mr. Snitchey, "for Self and Craggs," wh* 
bowed, "good morning. Miss," to Marion, "I kiss youi 
hand." Which he did. "And I wish you "—which ht 
might or might not, for he didn't look, at first sight, like a 
gentleman troubled with many warm outpourings of soul, in 
behalf of other people— "a hundred happy returns of this 
auspicious day." 

" Ha, ha, ha ! " laughed the Doctor thoughtfully, with hia 
hands in his pockets. " The great farce in a hundred acts." 

" You wouldn't, I am sure," said Mr. Snitchey, standing a 
small professional blue bag against one leg of the table, " cut 
the great farce short for this actress, at all events. Doctor 
Jeddler." 

"No," returned the Doctor. "God forbid! May shs 
live to laugh at it, as long as she can laugh, and then say, 
with the French wit, 'The farce is ended ; draw the curtain.' ' 

" The French wit," said Mr. Snitchey, peeping sharply into 
his blue bag, " was wrong. Doctor Jeddler ; and your phi- 
losophy is altogether wrong, depend upon it, as I have often 
told you. Nothing serious in life ! What do you call law ? " 

" A joke," replied the Doctor. 

" Did you ever go to law ? " asked Mr. Snitchey, looking 
out of the blue bag. 

" Never," returned the Doctor. 

' if you ever do," said Mr. Snitchey, " perhaps youll alter 
that opinion." 

Craggs, who seemed to be represented by Snitchey, and 
to be conscious of little or no separate existence or personal 
individuality, offered a remark of his own in this place. It 
involved the only idea of which he did not stand seised and 
possessed in equal moieties with Snitchey ; but he had some 
partners in it among the wise men of the world. 

" It's made a great deal too easy," said Mr. Craggs. 

" Law is ? " asked the Doctor. 

"Yes," said Mr. Craggs, "everything is. Everything 
appears to me> to be made too easy, nowadays. It's the vice 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 359 

of these times. If the world is a joke (I am not prepared 
to say it isn't), it ought to be made a very difficult joke to 
crack. It ought to be as hard a struggle, sir, as possible. 
That's the intention. But it's being made far too easy. We 
are oiling the gates of life. They ought to I isty. We 
shall have them beginning to turn, soon, w..., a smooth 
sound ; whereas they ought to grate upcn their hmges, Sir." 

Mr. Craggs seemed positively to grate upon his own hinges, 
as he delivered this opinion; to which he communicated 
immense effect— being a c kl, hard, dry man, dressed in 
grey and white, like a flint, with small twinkles in his eyes, 
as if something struck sparks out of them. The three 
natural kingdoms, indeed, h.ul each a fanciful representative 
among this brotherhoo! of disputants; for Snitchey was like 
a magpie or a raven (only not so sleek), anH the Doctor had 
a streaked face like a winter pippin -.vith ht-re and there a 
dimple to express the i)eckir ^s o( the birds, and a very little 
bit of pigtail behind that siotnl fur ihc stalk. 

As the active figure of a handsome young man, dressed 
for a journey, and followed by a porter bearing several pack- 
ages and baskets, entered the orchard at a brisk pace, and 
with an air of gaiety and hope that accorded well with tiie 
morning, these three drew together, like the brothers o; 



• ■c 



sister Fates, or like the Graces most effectually disguis< 
like the three weird prophets on the heath, and greete . 'i >h. 

" Happy returns, Alf," said the Doctor lightly. 

"A hundred happy returns of this auspicious day, :\k, 
Heathfield," said Snitchey, bowing low. 

" Returns," Craggs murmured in a deep voice, all alone. 

" Why, what a battery ! " exclaimed Alfred, stopping short, 
"and one— two— three— all foreboders of no good, in the 
great sea before me. I am glad you are not the first I have 
met this morning ; I should have taken it for a bad omen. 
But Grace was the first — sweet, pleasant Grace — so I defy 
you aU." 

" If you please. Mister, 7 was the first, you know," said 
Clemency Newcome. " She was a-walking out her^ before 
sunrise, you remember. I was in the house." 

"That's true ; Clemency was the first," said Alfred "So 
t defy you with Clemency." 



mp 





ill 



I 



■If I 



II' 

ir 

i'.*' 



3<50 THE liAtTLE UP UFE. 

" What a defiance ! " 

"Not so bad a one as it appears, may be," said Alfred 
shaking hands heartily with the Doctor, and also wit! 
Snitchey and Craggs, and then looking round. "Where ar( 
the--Good Heavens ! " 

With a start, productive for the moment of a closer part 
nership between Jonathan Snitchey and Thomas Craggs thar 
the subsistmg articles of agreement in that wise contemplated 
he hastily betook himself to where the sisters stood together 
and—however, I needn't more particularly explain his man- 
ner of saluting Marion first and Grace afterwards, than by 
hmtmg that Mr. Craggs may possibly have considered it 
" too easy." 

Perhaps, to change the subject, Lector Jeddler made a 
hasty move towards the breakfast, and they all sat down at 
table. Grace presided ; but so discreetly stationed herself 
as to cut off her sister and Alfred from the rest of the com- 
pany. Snitchey and Craggs sat at opposite comers, with the 
blue bag between them for safety; and the Doctor took his 
usual position, opposite to Grace. Clemency hovered gal- 
vanically about the table as waitress; and the melancholy 
J^ntam, at another and i smaller board, acted as Grand 
Carver of a round of beef and a ham. 

"Meat?" said Britain, approaching Mr. Snitchey, with the 
carving knife and fork in Ils hands, and throwing the ques- 
tion at hira like a missile. 

" Certainly," returned the lawyer. 
" Do you want any ? " to Craggs. 
" Lean, and well done," replied that gentleman. 
Having executed these orders, and moderately supplied 
the Doctor (he seemed to know that nobody else wanted 
anything to eat), he lingered as near the Firm as he decently 
could, watching with an austere eye their disposition of the 
viands, and but once relaxing the severe expression of his 
face. This was on the occasion of Mr. Craggs, whose teeth 
were not of the best, partially choking, when he cried out 
with great animation, " 1 thought he was gone 1 " 

"Now, Alfred," said the Doctor, "for a word or two of 
t)us;*iess, while we are yet at breakfast." 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 36I 

" While we are yet at breakfast," said Snitchey and Craggs, 

who seemed to have no present idea of leaving off. 

Although Alfred had not been breakfasting, and seemed 

to have quite enough business on his hands as it was, he 

respectfully answered, — 
" If you please. Sir." 

"If anything could be serious," the Doctor began, "in 
such a " 

" Farce as this, Sir," hinted Alfred. 

" In such a farce as this," observed the Doctor, " it might 
be this recurrence, on the eve of separation, of a double birth- 
day, which is connected with many associations pleasant to 
us four, and with the recollection of a long and amicable 
intercourse. That's not to the purpose." 

"Ah! yes, yes. Doctor Jeddler," said the young man; 
" it is to the purpose. Much to the purpose, as my heart 
bears witness this morning ; and as yours does too, I know, 
if you would let it speak. I leave your house to-day ; I 
cease to be your ward to-day ; we part with tender relations 
stretching far behind us, that never can be exactly renewed, 
and with others dawning yet before us "—he looked down at 
Marion beside him—*' fraught with such considerations as I 
must not trust myself to speak of now. Come, come," he 
added, rallying his spirits and the Doctor at once, " there's a 
serious grain in this large foolish dust-heap. Doctor. Let us 
allow to-day that there is One." 

"To-day ! " cried the Doctor. " TTear him. Ha, ha, ha ! 
Of all days in the foolish year. \Vhy, on this day the great 
battle was fought on this ground. On this ground where we 
now sit, where I saw my two girls dance this morning, where 
the fruit has just been' gathered for our eating from these 
trees, the roots of which are struck in men, not earth — so 
many lives were lost, that within my recollection, generations 
afterwards, a churchyard full of bones, and dust of bones, 
and chips of cloven skulls, has been dug up from under- 
neath our feet here. Yet not a hundred people in that 
battle knew for what they fought, or why ; not a hundred oi 
the inconsiderate rejoicers in Ihe victory, why they rejoiced. 
Not half a hundred people were the better for the gain or 
loss Not half 9 dozen men agree *o this ho'jr on the cause 



f i. 



i -s 




''i i I 




3^2 THE BATTT.E OF IJFE. 

^Uaf^^d ^"1 "obody, in short, ever knew anything distinc 
fh^rl!!.^"', '\^^^^^^' of the slain. Serious, t^ ! " ^k 
the Doctor, laughing. " Such a system ! " 

"But all this seems to me," said Alfred, "to be ver^ 
nous." ' '^ »ci; 



serious, 



■^hinff/^"^'" """^^ '^^ ^°^'°'- "^^ y°" ^"«^ed such 

.hings to be serious, you must go mad, or die, or climb up 
to the top of a mountain and turn hermit." 
" Besides— so long ago," said Alfred. 

thl ^?Si T • K '^'"T -"^ ^''^ ^^°^'°'- " ^^° y«" know what 
Che world has been domg ever since? Do you know what 

else It has been doing ? /don't." 

his'teL^^^ ^"""^ ^° ^^"^ ^ ^'"^^'" observed Mr. Snitchey, stirring 

"Although the way out has been always made too easy " 
said his partner. '■ 

Q ".^""^ ru'^^' ^""^"^^ "^y ^y^"^' Doctor," pursued Mr 
Snitchey "having been already put a thousand times in pos- 
session of my opinion in the course of our discussions, That 
in its having gone to law, and in its legal system altogether, I 
do observe a serious side-now, really, a something tangible, 

and with a purpose and intention in it " 

Clemency Newcome made an angular tumble against the 
table, occasioning a sounding clatter among the cups and 
saucers. ^ ^ 

Doct^r^'^''^ ■' ''^'^^'' ^^^ "'''"''''■ ^^'''^^" exclaimed the 

"It's this evil-inclined blue bag," said Clemency, "always 
tripping up somebody." ^' '"'*'*y'' 

cnm^^'^Q a purpose and intention in it, I was saying," re- 
sumed Snitchey, " that commands respect. Life a farce 
Doctor Jeddler? With law in it ? " ^ ^•^rce, 

The Doctor laughed, and looked at Alfred 
.. J.'.^'^"*^*^' '^ yo" please, that war is foolish," said Snitchey 

1 here we agree. For example. Here's a smiling country '" 
pointing It out with his fork, "once overrun by soldiers- 
trespassers every man of 'em-and laid waste by fire and 
sword. He, he, he! The idea of any man exposing him- 
self voluntarily to fire and sword! Stupid, wastefulf posi- 
tively ridiculous! You laugh at your feIlo;-creatures. ^ou 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 363 

know, when you think of it. But take this smiling country 
as it stands. Think of the laws appertaining to real prop- 
erty; to the bequest and devise of real property; to the 
mortgage and redemption of real property; to leasehold, 
freehold, and copyhold estate ;— think," said Mr. Snitchey, 
with such great emotion that he actually smacked his lips, 
" of the complicated laws relating to title and proof of title, 
with all the contradictory precedents and numerous Acts of 
Parliament connected with them ; think of the infinite number 
of ingenious and interminable Chancery suits to which this 
pleasant prospect may give rise ;— and acknowledge. Doctor 
Jeddler, that there is a green spot in the scheme about us ! 
I believe," said Mr. Snitchey, looking at his partner, " that I 
speak for Self and Craggs ? " 

Mr. Craggs having signified assent, Mr. Snitchey, some- 
what freshened by his recent eloquence, observed that he 
would take a litde more beef, and another cup of tea. 

" I don't stand up for life in general," he addtd, rubbing 
his hands and chuckling ; " it's full of folly ; full of something 
worse— professions of trust, and confidence, and unselfish- 
ness, and all that. Bah, bah, bah ! We see what they're 
worth. But you mustn't laugh at life; you've got a gam« 
to play— a very serious game indeed. Everybody's playing 
against you, you know; and you're playing against them. 
Oh ! it's a very interesting thing. There are deep moves 
upon the board. You must only laugh. Doctor Jeddler, 
when you win, and then not much. He, he, he ! And then 
not much," repeated Snitchey, rolling his head and winking 
his eye ; as if he would have added, " vou may do this in- 
stead." 

"Well, Alfred," cried the Doctor, "what do you say 
now?" ^ 

" I say. Sir," replied Alfred, " that the greatest favour you 
could do me, and yourself too, I am inclined to think, would 
be to try sometimes to forget this battlefield, and others like 
It, in that broader battlefield of Life on which the sun looks 
every day." 

" Really, I'm afraid that wouldn't soften his opinions, Mr. 
Alfred," said Snitchey. "The combatants are very tagcr 
and very bitter in that same battle of Life. There's a great 



k 




«e. 



(;■■:■. 



3^ Tilt BATTLE OF LIFE, 

deal of cutting and slashing, and firing into people's head 
from behind— terrible treading down, and trampling on : it' 
rather a bad business." 

"1 believe, Mr. Snitchey,* said Alfred, "there are quie 
victories and struggles, great sacrifices of self, and noble ac t 
of heroism, m it— even in many of its apparent lightnesse 
^d cootradictions- not the less difficult to achieve, becaus. 
they have no earthly chronicle or audience ; done every da^ 
in nooks and corners, and in litt'.^ households, and in men'' 
and ^vomen's hearts—any one of which might reconcile th( 
sternest man to such a world, and fill him with belief anr 
hope in It, though two-fourths of its people were at war, anc 
another fourth at law ; and that^s a bold word." 
Both the sisters listened keenly. 

"Well, well," said the Doctor, "I am too old to be con 
verted, even by my friend Snitchey here, or my good spinstei 
sister, Martha Jeddler, who had what she calls her domestic 
tnals ages ago, and has led a sympathizing life with all sort^ 
of people^ ever since, and who is so much of your opinion 
(only she's less reasonable and more obstinate, being a 
woman), that we can't agree, and seldom meet. I was born 
upon this battlefield. I began, as a boy, to have my thoughts 
directed to the real history of a battlefield. Sixtv years have 
gone over my head, and I have never seen the Christian 
world, including Heaven knows how manv loving mothers and 
good enough girls, like mine here, anything but mad for a 
battlefield. The same contradictions prevail in everything. 
One must either laugh or cry at such stupendous inconsist- 
encies ; and I prefer to laugh." 

Britain, who had been paying the profoundest and most 
melancholy attention to each speaker in his turn, seemed 
suddenly to decide in favour of the same preference, if a 
deep sepulchral sound that escaped him might be construed 
into a demonstration of risibility. His face, however, was so 
perfectly unaffected by it, both before and afterwards, that 
although one or two of the breakfast party looked round as 
being startled by a mysterious noise, nobody connected the 
offender with it. 

Except his partner in attendance, Clemency Newcome, 
who, rousing him with one of those favourite joints, her 



.'iim 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. ^6$ 

elbows, inquired, in a reproachful whisper, what he 
laughed at 

*' Not you," said Britain. 

"Who then?" 

" Humanity," said Britain. " That's the joke." 

"What between master and them lawyers, he's getting 
more and more addle-headed every day," cried Clemency, 
giving him a lunge with the other elbow, as a mental stimu- 
lant. " Do you know where you are? Do you want to get 
warning ? " 

" I don't know anything," said Britain, with a leaden eye 
and an immovable visage. " I don't care for anything. T 
don't make out anything. I don't believe anything. And I 
don't want anything." 

Although this forlorn summary of his general condition 
may have been overcharged in an access of despondency, 
Benjamin Britain — sometimes called Little Britain, to dis- 
tinguish him from Great ; as we might say Young England, 
to express Old England with a difference — had defined his 
real state more accurately than might be supposed. For 
serving as a sort of man Miles to the Doctor's Friar Bacon, 
and listening day after day to innumerable orations addressed 
by the Doctor to various people, all tending to show that his 
very existence was at best a mistake and an absurdity, this 
unfortunate servitor had fallen, by degrees, into such an 
abyss of confused and contradictory suggestions from within 
and without, that Truth at the bottom of her well was on 
the level surface as compared with Britain in the depths of 
his mystification. The only point he clearly comprehended 
was, that the new element usually brought into these dis- 
cussions by Snitchey and Craggs never served to make them 
clearer, and always seemed to give the Doctor a species of 
advantage and confirmation. Therefore he looked upon the 
Firm as one of the proximate causes of his state of mind, 
and held them in abhorrence accordingly. 

"But this is not our business, Alfred," said the Doctor, 
"Ceasing to be my ward (as you have said) tonday, and 
leaving us full to the brim of such learning as the Grammar 
School down here was able to give you, and your studies in 
London could add to that, and such practical knowledge as 



frif *«^ 



■ * . 



li: 



3^ THE BATTLE OF LIFE, 

a dull old country doctor like myself could graft upon both 
you are away no,, into the world. The firsftermTf p^S 
tion appointed by your poor father being over, away you a 
now, your own master, to fulfil his second desire : ind loS 

m/SS ^°"' ?'^K ^^'"'' '°"'' ^"^°"g '^^ foreign schools o 
medicme is finished, you'll have forgotten us. Lord, you'I 
forget us easily in six months." ^ j " 

*« ly f»^°^T,r ^^\ y°'^ ^"°^ ^^^^^> why should I speai 
to yc'T 1 said Alfred, laughing. ^ 

uZl ^"J''' ^"""^ anything of the sort," returned the Doctor 
Vvhat do you say, Manon?" 

Marion, trifling with her teacup, seemed to say— but she 
conM "7 ''"■'^^' ^I was welcome to forget them, if he 
and smilS^*"^ ^' blooming face against her cheefr. 

'; I haven't been, I hope, a very unjust steward in the exe- 
cution of my trust," pursued the Doctor; "but I am to be 
at any rate, formally discharged, and released, and what not! 
this morning; and here are our good friends Snitchey and 
Craggs, with a bagful of papers and accounts and documents, 
for the transfer of the balance of the trust fund to you (I 
wish It was a more difficult one to dispose of, Alfred, but 
you must get to be a great man and make it so), and other 

r^„l'^^ duly witnessed, as by law required," said Snitchey, 
pushing away his plate, and taking out the papers, which his 
partner proceeded to spread upon the table; "and Self and 
Craggs having been co-trustees with you. Doctor, in so far as 
the fund was concerned, we shall want your two servants to 
attest the signatures.— Can you read, Mrs. Newcome?" 

u?^v'V /"^'^d, Mister," said Clemency. 
Oh, I beg your pardon. I should think not," chuckled 
" You %'« r'Sl??' " "^'' °""' ^'' extraordinary figure. 

''A little," answered Clemency. 

"The marriage service, night and morning, eh?'^ observed 
the lawyer jocosely. 

fhi'mble '" ^'^ <^*en^ency. " Too hard. I only reads a 



t»1 



THE BATTLE OF MFE. 367 

'Read a thimble!" echoed Snitchey. "What are you 
talking about, young woman ? " 

Clemency nodded. *' And a nutmeg-grater." 

"Why, this is a lunatic— a subject for the Lord High 
Chancellor," said Snitchey, staring at her. 

" If posses.sed of any property," stipulated Craggs. 

Grace, however, interposing, explained that each of the 
articles in question bore an engraved motto, and so formed 
the pocket library of Clemency Newcome, who was not much 
given to the study of books. 

"Oh, that's it, is it. Miss Grace .'"said Snitchev. "Yes, 
yes. Ha, ha, ha ! I thought our friend was an idiot. She 
looks uncommonly like it," he muttered with a supercilious 
glance. "And what does the thimble say, Mrs. New- 
come ? " 

" I ain't married, Mister," observed Clemency. 

" Well, Newcome. Will that do ? " sairl the lawyer. " What 
does the thimble say, Newcome ? " 

How Clemency, before replying tr this question, held one 
pocket open, and looked down into its yawning depths for 
the thimble which wasn't there ; and how she then held an 
opposite pocket open, and seeming to descry it, like a pearl 
of great price, at the bottom, cleared away such intervening 
obstacles as a handkerchief, an end of wax candle, a flushtid 
apple, an orange, a lucky penny, a cramp bone, a padlock, a 
pair of scissors in a sheath, more expressively describable 
as promising young shears, a handful or so of loose beads, 
several balls of cotton, a needle-case, a cabinet collection of 
curl-papers, and a biscuit, all of which articles she entrusted 
individually and severally to Britain to hold— is of no conse- 
quence. Nor how, in her determination to grasp this pocket 
by the throat and keep it prisoner (for it had a tendency to 
swing and twist itself round the nearest corner), she assumed 
and calmly maintained an attitude apparently inconsistent 
with the human anatomy and the laws of gravity. It is 
enough that at last she triumphantly produced the thimh^ 
on her finger, and rattled the nutmeg-grater ; the literature 
of both those trinkets being obviously in course of wearing 
out and wasting away through excessive friction. 

"That's the thimble, is it, young woman?" said Mr. 




3^8 THE HATTLE OF F.IFE. 

Snitchey, diverting himself at her expense. " And what does 
the thimble say ? " 

" It says," replied Clemency, reading slowly lound it as if 
it were a tower, " * For-get and for-give. " 

Snitchey and Craggs laughed heartily. "So new I" said 
Snitchey. " So easy ! " said Craggs. " Such a knowledge of 
human nature in it," said Snitchey. "So applicable to the 
affairs of life," said Craggs. 

"And the nutmeg-grater?" inquired the head of the Firm. 

"The grater says," returned Clemency, " ' Do as you— wold 
— be — done by.*" 

"'Do, or you'll be done brown,* you mean," said Mr 
Snitchey. 

"I don't understand," retorted Clemency, shaking her 
head vaguely. " I ain't no lawyer." 

"I am afraid that if she was. Doctor," said Mr. Snitchey, 
turnmg to him suddenly, as if to anticipate any effect that 
might otherwise be consequent on this retort, "she'd find it 
to be the golden rule of half her clients. They are serious 
enough in that— whimsical as your world is— and lay the 
blame on us afterwards. We in our profession are little else 
than mirrors after all, Mr. Alfred ; but we are generally con- 
sulted by angry and quarrelsome people, who are not in 
their best looks ; and it's rather hard to quarrel with us if we 
reflect unpleasant aspects. I think," said Mr. Snitchey, 
" that I speak for Self and Craggs ? " 

" Decidedly," said Craggs. 

" And so, if Mr. Britain will oblige us with a mouthful of 
ink," said Mr. Snitchey, returning to the pa;)ets '"we'll sign, 
seal, and deliver as soon as possible, or the coach will be 
coming past before we know where we are." 

If one might judge from his appearance, there was every 
probability of the coach coming past before Mr. Britain knew 
where he was ; for he stood in a state of abstraction, mentally 
balancing the Doctor against the lawyers, and the lawyers 
against the Doctor, and their clients against both ; and en- 
gaged in feeble attempts to make the thimble and nutmeg- 
grater (a nev,- idea to him) square with anybody's system of 
philosophy ; and, in short, bewildering himself as much as 
ever bis great namesake has done with theories and schools. 



thi 



Mr. 
her 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 3C9 

But Clemency, who was his good genius— though he had the 
meanest possible opinion of her understanding, by reason of 
her seldom troubling herself with abstract speculations, and 
being always at hand to do the right tiling at the right time 
—having produced the ink in a twinkling, tendered him the 
further service of recalling him to himself by the application 
of her elbows, with which gentle flappers she so jogged his 
memory, in a more literal construction of that phrase than 
usual, that he soon became quite fresh and brisk. 

How he laboured under an apprehension not uncommon 
to persons in his degree, to whom the use of pen and ink is 
an event, that he couldn't append his name to a document, 
not of his own writing, without committing himself in some 
shadowy manner, or somehow signing away vague and enor- 
mous sums of money ; and how he approached the deeds 
under protest, and by dint of the Doctor's coercion, and in- 
sisted on pausing to look at them before \iTiting (the cramped 
hand, to say nothing of the phraseology, being so much 
Chinese to him), and also on turning them round to see 
whether there was anything fraudulent underneath ; and 
how, having signed his name, he became desolate as one 
who had parted with his property and rights,— I want the 
time to tell. Also, how the blue bag containing his signature 
afterwards had a mysterious interest for him, and he couldn't 
leave it ; also, how Clemency Newcome, in an ecstasy of 
laughter at the idea of her own importance and dignity, 
Drooded over the whole table with her two elbows like a 
L^pread eagle, and reposed her head upon her left arm as a 
preliminary to the formation of certain cabalistic characters, 
which required a deal of ink, and imaginary counterparts 
whereof she executed at the same time with her tongue. 
Also how, having once tasted ink, she became thirsty in that 
regard, as tigers are said to l)e after tasting another sort of 
Huid,^ and wanted to sign everythinj?, and put her name in 
all kinds of places. In brief, t!i'> Doctor was discharged of 
his trust and all its responsibilities ; and Alfred, taking it on 
himself, was fairly started on the journey of life. 

"Britain," said the I doctor, "run to the gate and watch 
lor the coach. Time flies, Alfred." 

** Ve*, sij, yes," returned the young man hurriedly. " Deal 



. 






S70 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Grace! a moment! Marion— so young and beautiful, so 
winning and so much admired, dear to my heart as nothing 
else in life is— remember ! I leave Marion to you." 

"She has always been a sacred charge tome, Alfred. She 
18 doubly so now. I will be faithful to my trust, believe me." 

" I do believe it, Grace ; I know it well. Who could look 
upon your face, and hear your earnest voice, and not know 
it? Ah, good Grace! if I had your well-governed heart, 
and tranquil mind, how bravely I would leave this olace 
tCHiay ! " ^ 

" Would you ? " she answered, with a quiet smile. 

" And yet, Grace— Sister seems the natural word." 

" Use It," she said quickly. " I am glad to hear it ; call 
me nothing else." 

"And yet, Sister, then," said Alfred, "Marion and I had 
better have your true and steadfast qualities serving us here, 
and making us both liappier and better. I wouldn't carry 
them away to sustain myself if I could." 

" Coach upon the hill-top ! " exclaimed Britain. 

"Time flies, Alfred," said tiie Doctor. 

Marion had stood apart with her eyes fixed up ^n the 
ground; but this warning being gi\en, her young lover 
brought her tenderly to where her sister stood, and gave her 
into her embrace. 

" I have been telling Grace, dear Marion," he said, " that 
you are her charge— my precious trust at parting. And when 
I come back and reclaim you, dearest, and the bright pros- 
pect of our married life lies stretched before us, it shall be 
one of our chief pleasures to consult how we can make Grace 
happy ; how we can anticipate her wishes ; how we can show 
our gratitude and love to her ; how we can return her some- 
thing of the debt she will have heaped upon us." 

The younger sister had one hand in his ; the other rested 
on her sister's neck. She looked into that sister's eyes, so 
calm, sererie, and cheerful, with a gaze in which affection, 
admiration, sorrow, wonder, almost veneration, were blended. 
She looked into that sister's face, as if it were the face of 
some bright angel. Calm, serene, and cheerful, it looked 
back on her and on her lover. 

"And when the time comes, as it must one day," said 



call 



so 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 371 

Alfred — " I wonder it has never come yet ; but Grace knows 
best, for Orace is always right— when she will want a friend 
to open her whole heart to, and to be to her something of 
what she has been to us, then, Marion, how faithful we 
will prove, and what delight to us to know that she, our 
dear good sister, loves and is loved again, as we would have 
her ! " 

Still the younger sister looked into her eves, and turned 
not—even towards him. And still those honest eyes looked 
back, so calm, serene, and cheerful, on h«.«rs-jlf and on her 
lover. 

"And when all that is past, and we are old, and living 
(as we must !) together— close together ; talking often of old 
times," said Alfred— " these shall be our favourite times 
among them— this day most of all ; and telling each other 
what we thought and felt, and hoped and feared, at parting • 
and how we couldn't bear to say good-bye " ' 

I' Coach coming through the wood ! " cried Britain. 

" Yes ! I am ready — and how we met again, so happily, 
m spite of all ; we'll make this day the happiest in all the 
year, and keep it as a treble birthday. Shall we, dear ? " 

"Yes!" interposed the elder sister, eagerly, and with a 
radiant smile. " Yes ! Alfred, don't linger. There's no 
time. Say good-bye to Marion. And Heaven be with you ! " 

He pressed the younger sister to his heart. Released from 
his embrace, she again clung to her sister; and her eyes, 
with the same blended look, again souglit those so calm, 
serene, and cheerful. 

"Farewell, my boy!" said the Doctor. "To talk about 
any serious correspondence or serious affections, and engage- 
ments, and so forth, in such a— ha, ha, ha !— you know 
what I mean— why tliat, of course, would he sheer nonsense. 
All I can say is, that if you and Marion sliould continue in 
the same foolish minds, \ sliall not object to have ycu for 
a son-in-law one of these djvs." 

" Over the bridge ! " cried Britain. 

" Let it come ! " said Alfred, wringing the Doctor's hand 
stoutly. "Think of inc sometimes, my old friend and 
guardian, as seriously as you can! Adieu, Mr. Snitchey! 
Farewell, Mr. Craggs I " 




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372 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

" Coming down the road ! " cried Britain. 

"A kiss of Clemency Newcome for long acquaintance* 
sake. Shake hands, Britain. Marion, dearest heart, good- 
bye ! Sister Grace, remember ! " 

The quiet household figure, and the face so beautiful in 
its serenity, were turned towards him in reply ; but Marion's 
look and attitude remained unchanged. 

The coach was at the gate. There was a bustle with the 
luggage. The coach drove away. Marion never moved. 

"He waves his hat to you, my love," said Grace. "Your 
chosen husband, darling. Look ! " 

The younger sister raised her head, and, for a moment, 
turned it. Then turning back again, and fully meeting, for 
the first time, those calm eyes, fell soi^bing on her neck. 

"Oh, Grace ! God bless you ! But I carmot bear to see 
it, Grace ! It breaks my heart." 



f- 



PART THE SECOND. 

Snitchey and Craggs had a snug little office on the old 
Battle Ground, where they drove a snug little business, and 
fought a great many small pitched battles for a great many 
contending parties. Though it could hardly be said of 
these conflicts that they were running fights — for in truth 
they generally proceeded at a snail s pace — the part the Firm 
had in then, came so far within that general denomination, 
that now they took a shot at this Plaintiff, and now aimed 
a chop at that Defendant, now made a heavy charge at an 
estate in Chancery, and now had some light skirmishing 
among an irregular body of small debtors, just as the occa- 
sion served, and the enemy happened to present himself 
The Gazette was an important and profitable feature in some 
of their fields, as well as in fields of greater renown ; and 
in most of the Actions wherein they showed their general- 
ship, it was afterwards observed by the combatants that they 
had had great difficulty in making each other out, or in 
knowing with any degree of distinctness what they were 
about, in consequence of the vast amount of smoke by 
which they were surrounded. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 373 

The offices of Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs stood con- 
venient, wth an open door, down two smooth steps in the 
market-place, so that any angry farmer inclining towards hot 
water might tumble into it at once. Their special council- 
chamber and hall of conference was an old back room up- 
stairs, with a low dark ceiling, which seemed to be knitting 
Its brows gloomily in the consideration of tangled points of 
law. It was furnished with some high-!)acked leathern 
chairs, garnished with great goggle-eyed brass nails, of which, 
every here and there, two or three had fallen out— or had 
been picked out, perhaps, by the wandering thumbs and 
forefingers of bewildered clients. There was a framed print 
of a great judge in it, every curl in whose dreadful wig had 
made a man's hair stand on end. Bales of papers filled the 
dusty closets, shelves, and tables ; and round the wainscot 
there were tiers of boxes, padl-cked ind fireproof, with 
peoples names painted outside, which anxious visitors felt 
themselves, by a cruel enchantment, obliged to spell back- 
wards and forwards, and to make anagrams of, while they 
sat seeming to listen to Snitchey and Craggs, withcnt com- 
prehending one word of what they said. 

Snitchey and Craggs had each in private life, as in pro- 
fessional existence, a partner of his own. Snitchey and 
Craggs were the best friends in the world, and had a real 
confidence in one another ; but Mrs. Snitchey, by a dispen- 
sation not uncommon in the affairs of life, was, on principle 
suspicious of Mr. Craggs, and Mrs. Craggs was, on principle! 
suspicious of Mr. Snitchey. "Your Snitcheys indeed," the 
latter lady would observe sometimes to Mr. Craggs— using 
that imaginative plural as if in disparagement of an objection- 
able pair of pantaloons, or other articles not possessed of 
a singular number—" I don't see what you want with your 
Snitcheys, for my part. You trust a great deal too much 
to your Snitcheys, / think, and I hope you may never find 
my words come true." While Mrs. Snitchey would observe 
to Mr. Snitchey, of Craggs, " That if ever he was led away by 
man, he was led away by that man ; and that if ever she read 
a double purpose in a mortal eye, she read that purpose in 
Craggs's eye." Notwithstanding this, however, they were dl 
very good friends in general ; and Mrs. Snitchey and Mrs. 



H 



Mi 



S74 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



Craggs maintained a close bond of alliance against "the 
office," which they both considered a Blue chamber, and 
common enemy, full of dangerous (because unknown) machi- 
nations. 

In this office, nevertheless, Snitchey and Craggs made 
honey for their several hives. Here sometimes they would 
linger, of a fine evening, at the window of their council- 
chamber, overlooking the old battle-ground, and wonder 
(but that was generally at assize time, when much business 
had made them sentimental) at the folly of mankind, who 
couldn't always be at peace with one another, and go to 
law comfortably. Here days, and weeks, and months, and 
years passed over them ; their calendar, the gradually dimin- 
ishing number of brass nails in the leathern chairs, and the 
increasing bulk of papers on the tables. Here nearly three 
years' flight had thinned the one and swelled the other since 
the breakfast in the orchard, when they sat together in 
consultation, at night. 

Not alone, but with a man of thirty, or about that time 
of life, negligently dressed, and somewhat haggard in the 
face, but well-made, well-attired, and well-looking, who sat 
in the arm-chair of state, with one hand in his breast, and 
the other in his dishevelled hair, pondering moodily. Messrs. 
Snitchey and Craggs sat opposite each other at a neighbour- 
ing desk. One of the fireproof boxes, unpadlocked and 
opened, was upon it ; a part of its contents lay strewn u;jon 
the table, and the rest was then in course of passing through 
the hands of Mr. Snitchey, who brought it to the candle, 
document by document, looked at every paper singly, as 
he produced it, shook his head, and handed it to Mr. Craggs, 
who looked it over also, shook his head, and laid it down. 
Sometimes they would stop, and shaking their heads in 
concert, look towards the abstracted client; and th' me 
on the box being Michael Warden, Esquire, we may conclude 
from these premises that the name and the box were both 
his, and that the affairs of Michael Warden, Esquire, were 
in a bad way. 

"That's all," said Mr. Snitchey, turning up the last 
paper. "Really there's no other resource— no other re- 
source." 



"the 
, and 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 375 

"All lost, spent, wasted, pawned, borrowed and sold, eh?" 
said the client, looking up. 

"All," returned Mr. Snitchey. 

" Nothing else to be done, you say I' " 

" Nothing at all." 

The client bit his nails, and pondered again. 

"And I am not even personally safe in England- Yon 
hold to that, do you ? " 

" In no part of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and 
Ireland," replied Mr. Snitchey. 

" A mere prodigal son, with no father to go back to, no 
swine to keep, and no husks to share with them? Eh?" 
pursued the client, rocking one leg over the other, and 
searching the ground with his eyes. 

Mr. Snitchey coughed, as If to deprecate th-. being sup- 
posed to participate in any figurative illustration of a legal 
position. Mr. Craggs, as if to express that it was a partner- 
ship view of the subject, also coughed. 

" Ruined at t irty ! " said the client. " Humph ! " 

"Not ruinec, Mr. Warden," returned Snitchey. "Not 
so bad as that. You have done a good deal towards it, I 
must say, but you are not ruined. A little nursing " 

"A little Devil," said the client. 

"Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, "will you oblige me with a 
pinch of snuff? Thank you, Sir." 

As the imperturbable lawyer applied it to his nose, with 
great apparent relish, and a perfect absorption of his atten- 
tion in the proceeding, the client gradually broke into a smile, 
and looking up, said, — 

" You talk of nursing. How long nursing ? " 

" How long nursing ? " repeated Snitchey, dusting the snuflf 
from his fingers, and making a slow calculation in his mind. 
"For your involved estate. Sir? In good hands? S. and 
C.'s, say? Six or seven years." 

"To starve for six or seven years!" said the client 
with a fretful laugh, and an impatient change of his posi- 
tion. 

"To starve for six or seven years, Mr. Warden," said 
Snitchey, "would be very uncommon indeed. You might 
get another estate by showing yourself, the while. But we 





I 



37^ TITE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

vlon't think you could do it— speaking for Self and Cragg 
— and conzequently don't advise it." 

" What (fo you advise ? " 

' Nursing, I say," repeated Snitchey. " Some few years r 
n ui-sing by Self and Craggs would bring it round. But t 
enable us to make terms, and hold terms, and you to kee 
terms, you must go away, you must live abroad. As l 
starvation, we could ensure you some hundreds a year t 
starve upon, even in the beginning, I dare say, Mr. Warden. 

" Hundreds," said the client. "And I have spent thoi 
sands I " 

"That," retorted Mr. Snitchey, putting the papers slowl 
back into the cast-iron box, " there is no doubt about. Ni 
doubt a— bout," he repeated to himself, as he thoughtful!' 
pursued his occupation. 

The lawyer very likely knew his man ; at anyrate his dry 
shrewd, whimsical manner had a favourable influence upor 
the client's moody state, and disposed him to be more fret 
and unreserved. Or perhaps the client knew /us man, anc 
had elicited such encouragement as he had received, tc 
render some purpose he was about to disclose the mort 
defensible in appearance. Gradually raising his head, ht 
sat looking at his immovable adviser with a smile, which 
presently broke mto a laugh. 

" After all," he said, " my iron-headed friend " 

Mr. Snitchey pointed out his partner. " Self and— excuse 
me — Craggs." 

"I beg Mr. Craggs's pardon,'' said the client. "After all, 
my iron-headed friends "—he leaned forward in his chair, and 
dropped his voice a little— "you don't know half my ruin 
yet." ^ 

Mr. Snitchey stopped and stared at him. Mr. Craggs also 
stared. 

" I am not only deep in debt," said the client, " but I am 
deep in " 

" Not in love ? " cried Snitchey. 

"Yes!" said the client, falling hack in his chair, and 
surveying the Firm with his hands in his pockets. *' Deep 
in love." 

"And not with an heiress, Sir?" said Snitcheyc 



V7 



said 
and 



you 



THE BATTLE OK LIFE. 
"Not with an heiress." 
" Nor a rich lady ? " 

!! ^^'".^ rich lady that I know of, except in beauty and merit." 
A single lady, I trust?" said Mr. Snitchey, with great 

"Certainly." 

;*It's not one of Doctor Jeddler's dauirhters>' 
bnitchey, suddenly squaring his elbows on his knees 
advancing his face at least a yard. ' 

" Yes ! " returned the client. 

u^^^'?.'^ younger daughter?" said Snitchey. 
Yes ! returned the client. 

"Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, much relieved, "will you 
oblige me with another pinch of snuff? Thank you.— I am 
happy to say it don't signify, Mr. Warden ; she's engaged, 
bir, shes bespoke. My partner can corroborate me. We 
know the fact." 

" We know the fact," repeated Craggs. 

c*vvk\^^'flu "^2 \ P^^''^^Ps/' returned the client quietly. 

What of that? Are you men of the world, and did you 
never hear of a woman changing her mind ? " 

"There certainly have been actions for breach," said Mr. 
bnitchey, "brought against both spinsters and widows, but 
in the majority of cases " 

" Cases I " interposed the client impatiently. " Don't talk 
to me of cases. The general precedent is in a much larger 
volume than any of your law books. Besides, do you think 
i have lived six weeks in the Doctor's house for nothing?" 

"I think, Sir," observed Mr, Snitchey, gravely addressing 
himself to his partner, " that of all the scrapes Mr. Warden's 
horses have brought him into at one time and another— and 
they have been pretty numerous, and pretty expensive, as 
none know better than himself and you and I— the worst 
scrape may turn out to be, if he talks in this way, his having 
been ever left by one of them at the Doctor's garden wail 
with three broken ribs, a snapped collar-bone, and the Lord 
knows how many bruises. We didn't think so much of it 
at the time when we knew he was going on well under the 
doctor's hands and roof : but it looks bad now, Sir. Bad ' It 
looks very^bad. Doctr^- Jeddler, too— our client Mr, Craggs." 




"■f-%-' 




378 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

"Mr. Alfred Heathfield, too — a sort of client, M 
Snitchey," said Craggs. 

"Mr. Michael Warden, too, a kind of client," said th 
careless visitor— "and no bad one either, having played th 
fool for ten or twelve years. However, Mr. Michael Wardt 
has sown his wild oats now— there's their crop, in that box- 
and means to repent and be wise. And in proof of it, M 
Michael Warden means, if he can, to marry Marion, th 
Doctor's lovely daughter, and to carry her away with him.'* 
Really, Mr. Craggs " Snitchey began. 

"Really Mr. Snitchey and Mr. Craggs, partners both, 
said the client, interrupting him, "you know your duty t 
your clients, and you know well enough, I am sure, that 
is no part of it to interfere in a mere love affair, which 
am obliged to confide to vou. I am not going to carry th 
young lady off without her own consent. There's notliin 
Illegal m it. I never was Mr. Heathfield's bosom frienc 
I violate no confidence of his. I love where he loves, an. 
I mean to win where he would win, if I can." 

"He can't, Mr. Craggs," said Snitchey, evidently anxiou 
and discomfited. "He can't do it, Sir. She dotes on Mr 
Alfred." 

II Does she ? " returned the Ment. 

« ?^ J. 9?^^-^' ^^^ ^^^'^-^ °" ^™' ^''■'" persisted Snitchey. 
I didnt live six weeks, some few months ago, in th( 
Doctor's house for nothing; and I doubted that soon,' 
ODserved the client. "She would have doted on him, i 
her sister could have brought it about; but I watchec 
them. Marion avoided his name, avoided the subject- 
shrunk from the least allusion to it with evident distress." 
t."^^Lf^°"^^ «he, Mr. Craggs, you know? Why should 
she, Sir?" inquired Snitchey. 

"I don't know why she should, though there are many 
likely reasons," said the client, smiling at the attention and 
perplexity expressed in Mr. Snitchey's shining eye, and at his 
cautious way of carrying on tlie conve.-sation, and making 
himself informed upon the subject ; " but I know she does 
bhe was very young wheti she made the engagement— if it 
may be called one ; I £..n not even sure of that— and has 
repented of it, perhaps. Perhaps— it seems a foppish thing 



THE r. :le of ijfe. 379 

to say, but upon my soul I don't mean it in that ight— she 
may have fallen in love with me, as I have fallen in love 
with her." 

•• He, he ! Mr. Alfred, her old playfellow too, you re- 
member Mr. Craggs," said Snitche^, with a disconcerted 
laugh, knew her almost from a baby ! " 

MVTiich makes it the more probable that she may be tired 
of his Idea, calmly pursued the client, "and not indisposed 
to exchange it for the newer one of another lover, who pre- 
sents himself (or is presented by his horse) under romantic 
circumstances ; has the not unfavourable reputation, with a 
country girl, of having lived thoughtlessly and gaily, without 
doing much harm to anybody; and who. for his youth and 
figure, and so forth— this may seem foppish again, but upon 
my soul I don t mean it in that light-might perhaps pass 
muster m a crowd with Mr. Alfred himself." 

There was no gainsaying the last clause, certainly; and 
Mr. Snitchey, glancing at him, thought so. There was some- 
thing naturally graceful and pleasant in the very carelessness 
of his air. It seemed to suggest, of his comely face and 
well-knit figure, that they might be greatly better if he chose ; 
and that, once roused and made earnest (but he never had 
been earnest yet), he could be full of fire and purpose. "A 
dangerous sort of libertine," thought the shrewd lavrver 
to seem to catch the spark he wants from a young lady's 

" Now observe, Snitchey," he continued, rising and taking 
him by the button, "and Craggs," taking him by the button 
also, and placing on< partner on either side of him, so that 
neither might evade him. "I don't ask you for any advice 
Vou are right to keep quite aloof from all parties u^h a 
matter, which is not one in which grave men like you could 
interfere on any side. I am briefly going to review in half a 
dozen words my position and intention, and then I shall 
leave it to you to do the best for me in monev matters that 
you can— seeing that, if I run awav with the Doctor's beau^ 
titul daughter (as I hope to do, and to become another man 
under her bnght influence), it will be for the moment more 
chargeable than running away alone. But I shall scon make 
all that up in an altered life," 



HM II 



INI! 



380 THE BATTLE Of LIFE. 

" I think it will be better not to hear this, Mr. Craggs ' 
said Snitchey, looking at him across the client. 

"/think not," said Craggs— b^rh listening attentively, 

" Well ! You needn't hear ''ed their client. " I 

mention it, however. I don't n.c^.. ,0 ask the Doctor's coi 
sent, because he wouldn't ^ive it "" But I mean to c 
the Doctor no wrong or harm, bccaui,«: (Ijesides there beir 
nothing serious in such trifles, as he says) I hope to rcsci 
his child, my Marion, from what I see— I Jknoja—she dread 
and contemplates with misery— that is, the return of this ol 
lover. If anything in the world is true, it is true that sh 
dreads his return. Nobody is injured so far. I am s 
harried and worried here just now, that I lead the life of 
flying-fish ; skulk about in the dark, am shut out of my ov; 
house, and warned off my own grounds. But that hous( 
and those grounds, and manv an acre besides, will com 
bark td me one day, as yoj know and say; and Mario 
will probably be richer — on your showing, who are neve 
sanguine— ten years hence as my wife, than as the wife c 
Alfred Heathfield, whose return she dreads (remember thac 
and in whom or in any man my passion is not surpassec 
Who is injured yet ? It is a fair case throughout My righ 
is as sood as his, if she decide in my favour ; and I will tr 
my right by her alone. You will like to know no more a^te 
this, and I will tell you no more. Now, you know my puj 
pose and wants. When must I leave ^ere ? " 

•* In a week," said Snitchey. " Mr. ^ raggs ? " 

" In something less, I should say," responded Crpggs. 

" In £. month," said the client, after attentively watcbinj 
the two faces. "This day month. To-day is Thursday 
Succeed or fail, on this day moiith I go." 

"It's too long a delay," said Snitchey— "m'lch too long 
But let it be so. I thought he'd have stipulated for three, 
he murmured to himself. "Are you going? Good night 

"Good light!" returned the client, shaking hands witi 
the Firm. "You'll live to see me making a good use c 
riches yet Henceforth, the star of my destiny is Marion ! " 

"Take care of the stairs. Sir," replied Snitchey, "for ski 
don't shine there. Good night ! * 






THE BATFLl. ur Utti. agi 

•Goodnight!" 
So they both stood at the stair-head with a pair of office- 

s^K H l!ir'^'"^' ^1'" '^""^ ' ^"^ ^^•^^^•" he hafgone away. 
Stood looking at each otiier * ^' 

Snilche;.' "^^ ^°" '^^"^ °^ ^" '^''^ ^'^'' Craggs?" said 
Mr. Craggs shook his head. 

oxecuteu. tnat there was something curious in the ..arting ot* 
that pair, I recollect," said Snitchey. * ^ 

" It was," said Mr. Craggs. 

;' Perhaps he deceives himself altogether," pursued Mr 
Snitchey, liking up the fireproof boxfand putting iaC* 
"or If he don't, a little bit of fickleness and perfidy is no 
a miracle, Mr. Craggs. And yet I thought that prelty face 
was very true. I thought, said Mr. Snitchey, putling en his 
greatcoat (for tae weather was very cold), drawing^n his 
gloves and snufting out one candle, "that I had even seen 
her character becoming stronger and more resolved of late. 
More like her sister's." 
;; Mrs. Craggs was of the same opinion," returned Craggs. 
Id really give a trifle to-night," observed Mr Snitchey 
who was a good-natured man, " if I could believe that Mr 
harden was reckoning without his host; but light-headed 
capricious, and unballasted as he is, he knows something of 
the world and us people (he ought to, for he has bought 
what he does know dear enough); and I can't c uite thi..k 
.hat. We had better not interfere; we can do nothing, Mr. 
Cra-gs, but keep, quiet." ^ 

" Nothing," returned Craggs. 

"Our friend the Doctor makes light of such things," said 
Mr. onitchey,^ shaking his head. -I hope he mayn't stand 
?.?^ c ?i ^!^ philosophy. Our friend Alfred talks of the 
battle of life"— he shook his head arain— "I hope he mayn't 
be CL- down early in the day. Have you got your hat, Mr. 
<-rage> i* I am going to put the other candle out." 

Mr. Cragf s replying in the atl^rmative, Mr. Snitchey suited 
the action to the word, and they groped their way out of the 
council-chamber, now as dark as the subject, or the law in 
general. 



Pl^p 





S8a THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

My story passes to a quiet little study, where, on tli 
same night, the sistc'-s and the hale old Doctor sat by 
cheerful fireside. Grace was working at her needle. Marit 
read aloud from a book before her. The Doctor, in li 
dressing-gown and slippers, with his feet spread out upc 
the warm rug, leaned back in his easy-chair, and lislent 
to the book, and looked upon his daughters. 

They were very beautiful to look upon. Two better fac< 
for a fireside never made a fireside bright and sacred. Som 
thing of the difference Ix-tween them had been softened dow 
in three years' time, and enthroned upon the clear brow < 
the younger sister, looking through her eyes, and thrilling i 
her voice, was the same earnest nature that her own mothc 
less youth had ripened in the elder sister long ago. But sh 
still appeared at once the lovelier and weaker of the twc 
still seemed to rest her head upon her sister's breast, an 
put her trust in her, and look into her eyes for counsel an 
reliance— those loving eves, so calm, serene, and cheerfu 
as of old. 

" • And being in her own home,' " read Marion from th 
book—" • her home, made exquisitely dear by these remen 
brances— she now began to know that the great trial of he 
heart must soon come on, and could not be delayed. ( 
Home, our comforter and friend when others fall away, t 
part with whom, at any step between the ^radle and th 
grave ' " 

" Marion, my love ' " said Grace. 

"Why, Puss ' " exv.laimed her father, "what's the matter? 

She put her hand upon tlie hand her sister stretched tc 
wards her, ar.d read on ; her voice still faltering and trem 
bling, though she made an effort to command it when thu 
interrupted : — 

" * To part with whom, at any step between the cradle an( 
the grave, is always sorrowful. O Home, so true to us, s( 
often slighted in return, be lenient to them that turn awa] 
from thee, and do not haunt their erring footsteps too re 
proachfully ! Let no kind looks, no well-remembered smiles 
be seen upon thy phantom face. Let no ray of affection 
welcome, gentleness, forbearance, cordiality, shine from th) 
white head. Let no old loving word or tone rise up ir 



', to 
the 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 383 

judfiment against thy deserter ; but if thou canst llok 
Harshly and severely, do, in mercy to the Penitent 1'" 

" Dear Marion, read no more to-night," said Grace— for 
she was weepmg. 

" I cannot," she replied, and closed the book. " The 
words seem all on fire ! " 

The Doc or was amused at this, a. id laughed as he patted 
her on the head. ^ 

.. " }^'^^^ \ overcome I . a story-l>ook ! " said Doctor Jeddler. 
Print and paper ! Well, well, its all one. It's as rational 
to make a serious matter of print and paper as of anything 
else. But dry yo r eyes, love- dry your eyes. dare say 
the heroine has got home again long ago, ant ; 1. Je it up 
all round ; and if she hasn't, a real home is on:, .our walls, 
and a fictitious one mere rags and ink. What's the matter 
now ? " 

"It's only me, Mister," said Clemency, putting in her head 
at the door. 

II And what's the matter with you r' said the Doctor. 

" Oh, bless you, nothing ain't the nutter with me," returned 
Clemency ; and truly, too, to judge from her well-soaped 
face, m which there gleamed as usual the very soul of good- 
humour, which, ungainly as she was, made her quite en- 
gaging. Abrasions on the elbows are not generally under- 
stood. It is true, to range within ' <t class of personal charms 
called beauty-spots. But it is be. , going through the world, 
to have the arms chafed in that narrow passage, than the 
temper; and Clemency's was sound and whole as any 
beauty's in the land. 

"Nothing ain't the matter with me," said Clemency enter- 
mg, "but— come a little closer, Mister." 

The Doctor, in some astonishment, complied with this 
invitation. 

"You said I wasn't to give you one before them, you 
know," said Clemency. 

A novice in the family might have supposed, from her 
extraordinary ogling as she said it, as well as from a singular 
rapture or ecstasy which pervaded her elbows, as if she were 
embracing herself, that ' ne,' in its most favourable inter- 
pretation, meant a chaste salute. Indeed, the Doctor himself 

12. 



3*4 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



I: 
t 




seemed alarmed for the moment ; but quickly regained hi 
composure, as Clemency having had recourse to both he 
pockets — beginning with the right one, going away to th 
wrong one, and afterwards coming back to the right on 
again— produced a letter from the Post-office. 

"Britain was riding by on a errand," she chuckled, hand 
ing it to the Doctor, "and see the Mail come in, and waite( 
for i't. There's A H. in the corner. Mr. Alfred's on hi 
journey home, I bet. We shall have a wedding in the housi 
—there was two spoons in mv saucer this morning. Oh 
Luck, how slow he opens it ! " 

All this she delivered by way of soliloquy, gradually risinj 
higher and higher on tiptoe in her impatience to hear th( 
news, and making a corkscrew of her apron and a bottle o 
her mouth. At last, arriving at a climax of suspense, anc 
seeing the Doctor still engaged in the perusal of the letter 
she came down flat upon the soles of her feet again, and cas 
her apron as a veil over her head, in a mute despair anc 
inability to bear it any longer. 

"Here! girls!" cried the Doctor. "I can't help it; ] 
never could keep a secret in my life. There are not man) 
secrets, indeed, worth being kept in such a— well ! nevei 
mind that Alfred's coming home, my dears, directly." 

" Directly ! " exclaimed Marion. 

" What ! The story-book is soon forgotten ! " said the 
Doctor, pinching her cheek. "I thought the news would 
dry those tears. Yes, * Let it be a surprise,' he says here. 
But I can't let it be a surprise. He must have a welcome." 

" Directly ! " repeated Marion. 

"Why, perhaps not what your impatience calls 'directly.'" 
returned the Doctor, *'but pretty soon too. Let us see. 
Let us see. To-day is Thursday, is it not? Then he prom- 
ises to be here this day month." 

" This day month ! " repeated Marion softly. 

" A gay day and a holiday for us," said the cheerful voice 
of her sister Grace, kissing her in congratulation. " Long 
looked forward to, dearest, and come at last." 

She answered with a smile— a mournful smile^ but full of 
sisterljr affection j and as she looked in her sister's face, 
and listened to the quiet music of her voice, picturing the 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 385 

happiness of this return, her own face glowed ^ith hope and 
joy. 

And with a something else, a something shinine more and 
more through all the rest of its expression, for wffi have 

The"vTre not T.T f'^^''^"' '^"'"P^' P^°"d enthusiasm. 
Ihey are not so calmly shown. It was not love and grati- 

tude a^one^ though love and gratitude were part of it^ It 
nntTch? ^'"°"l"° s^'-d'd thought; for sordid thoughts do 
I ?u ^ •! r? ^^%b^^^' a"d hover on the lips, and move 
IremSS!* ^ """'^ "^'^ ""'" ^'^ sympathetic figure 

Doctor Jeddler, in spite of his system of philosophy- 
which he was contmually contradicting and denying in Drac- 
tice; but more famous philosophers have done that-could 
not help having as much interest in the return of his old 
ward and pupil as if it had been a serious event. So he sat 
himself do^vn in his easy-chair again, stretched out his sliD- 
pared feet once more upon the rug, read the letter over arS 

"""'"'A^f !f T"y ^'"',f ' ^"^ ^^^^^ '^ «^^r '"ore times still. 
Ah! the day was," said the Doctor, looking at the fire 
;« when you and he, Grace, used to trot about arm in arm! 
m his holiday time, like a couple of walking dolls. You re^ 
member?" " *c- 

" I remember," she answered, with her pleasant laugh, and 
plying her needle busily. ^ * 

"This day month, indeed !" mused the Doctor. "That 
Mlrion'tW^' twelvemonth ago. And where was my little 

"Never far from her sister," said Marion cheerily, "how- 
ever httle. Grace was everything to me, even when she was 
a young child herself." 

. "7r"^i' ^''^^' ^'■''^" '■^turned the Doctor. " She was a 
staid little woman, was Grace, and a wise housekeeper, and 
a busy, qmet, pleasant body; bearing with our humours and 
anticipating our wishes, and always ready to forget her own 
even in those times. I never knew you positive or obstinate! 
Vjrace, my darimg, even then, on any subject but one." 
"I am afraid I have changed sadly for the worse, since." 

S ? " ^^^' ^"^^ ^^ ^^'" '^°*" " ^^' "^ ^^^ °^«» 










liji 



fa f Wii 



386 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

"Alfred, of course," said the Doctor. "Nothing wou 
serve you but you must be called Alfred's wife ; so we calh 
you Alfred's wife, and you liked it better, I believe (odd as 
seems now), than being called a Duchess, if we could ha 
made you one." 

" Indeed," said Grace placidly. 

" Why, don't you remember ? " inquired the Doctor. 

" I think I remember something of it," she returned, " b 
not much. It's so long ago." And as she sat at work, si 
hummed the burden of an old song which the Doctor likec 

" Alfred will find a real wife soon," she said, breaking ol 
" and that will be a happy time indeed for all of us. \ 
three years* trust is nearly at an end, Marion. It has been 
very easy one. I shall tell Alfred, when I give you back 
him, that you have loved him dearly all the time, and th 
he has never once needed my good services. May I t< 
him so, love ? " 

" Tell him, dear Grace," replied Marion, " that there nev 
was a trust so generously, nobly, steadfastly discharged ; ar 
that I have loved you^ all the time, dearer and dearer evei 
day, and oh, how dearly now ! " 

" Nay," said her cheerful sister, returning her embrace, " 
can scarcely tell him that; we will leave my deserts 1 
Alfred's imagination. It will be liberal enough, dear Mario 
like your own." 

With that she resumed the work she had for a momei 
laid down when her sister spoke so fervently, and with 
the old song the Doctor liked to hear. And the Doctc 
still reposing in his easy-chair, with his slippered fe^ 
stretched out before him on the rug, listened to the tun 
and beat time on his knee with Alfred's letter, and looked ; 
his two daughters, and thought that among the many trifl( 
of the trifling world, these trifles were agreeable enough. 

Clemency Newcome in the meantime, having accor 
plished her mission and lingered in the room until she ha 
made herself a party to the news, descended to the kitchei 
where her coadjutor, Mr. Britain, was regaling after suppe 
surrounded by such a plentiful collection of bright pot-lid 
well-scoured saucepans, burnished dinner-covers, gleamir 
kettles, and other tokens of her industrious habits, arrange 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 387 

upon the walls and shelves, that he sat as in the centre of a 
hall of mirrors. The majority did not give forth very flatter- 
ing portraits of him, certainly ; nor were they by any means 
unanimous in their reflections, as some made him very long- 
faced, others very broad-faced, some tolerably well-locking, 
others vasdy ill-looking, according to their several manners 
of reflecting — which were as various, in respect of one fact, 
as those of so many kinds of men. But they all agreed that 
in the midst of them sat, quite at his ease, an individual 
with a pipe in his mouth, and a jug of beer at his elbow, 
who nodded condescendingly to Clemency when she sta 
tioned herself at the same table. 

"Well, Clemmy," said Britain, "how are you by this time, 
and what's the news ? " 

Clemency told him the news, which he received very gra- 
ciously. A gracious change had come over Benjamin from 
head to foot. He was much broader, much redder, much 
more cheerful, and much jollier in all respects. It seemed 
as if his face had been tied up in a knot before, and was now 
untwisted and smoothed out. 

" There'll be another job for Snitchey and Craggs, f sup- 
pose," he observed, puffing slowly at his pipe. " More wit- 
nessing for you and me, perhaps, Clemmy." 

"Lor!" replied his fair companion, with her fai'ourite 
twist of her favourite joints, " I wish it was me, Britain." 

" Wish what was you ? " 

"A-going to be married," said Clemency. 

Benjamin took his pipe out of his mouth and laughed 
heartily. " Yes, you're a likely subject for that ! " he said. 
" Poor Clem ! " Clemency, for her part, laughed as heartily 
as he, and seemed as much amused by the idea. "Yes,'^ 
she assented, " I'm a likely subject for that ; ain't I ? " 

"You'll never be married, you know,' said Mr. Britain^ 
resuming his pipe. 

" Don't you think I ever shall, though ? " said Clemency, 
in perfect good faith. 

Mr, Britain shook his head. " Not a chance of it." 

'*Only think," said Clemency. "Well — T suppose you 
mean to, Britain, one of these days ; don't you?" 

A question so abrupt, upon a subject so momentous, re- 




388 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



mi ^'t-fj 



Hi! 



quired consideration. After blowing out a great cloud 
smoke, and looking at it with his head now on this side a 
now on that, as if it were actually the question, and he w 
surveying it m various aspects, Mr. Britain replied that 
wasnt altogether clear about it, but— ye-es— he thought 
might come to that at last. 

."^^'^u ^,uj^^* whoever she may be," cried Clemency. 

^ Oh, shell have that," said Benjamin, "safe enough." 

But she wouldn't have led quite such a joyful life as s 

ri ^^' ^""^ wouldn't have had quite such a sociable s. 

of husband as she will have," said Clemency, spreading h 

! ^^ «°7.^^^^.^^.^^^' ^"^ ^^""g retrospectively at t 
candle, "if it hadn't been for— not that I went to do it 1 
it was accidental I am sure— if it hadn't been for me : no 
would she, Britain?" ' 

"Certainly not," returned Mr. Britain, by this time in th 
high state of appreciation of his pipe, when a man can op. 
his mouth but a very little way for speaking purposes, ar 
sittmg luxuriously immovable in his chair, can afford to tui 
only his eyes towards a companion, and that very passive 
^^gravely. « Oh, I'm greatly beholden to you, you kno. 

"Lor, how nice that is to think of !=' said Clemency. 
^ At the same time, bringing her thoughts as well as h( 
sight to bear upon the candle-grease, and becoming abrupt 
reminiscent of its healing qualities as a balsam, she anointe 
her left elbow wth a plentiful application of that remedy. 

You see, Ive made a good many investigations of on 

sort and another m my time," pursued Mr. Britain, with th 

profundity of a sag^ " having been always of an inquirin 

turn of niind; and I've read a good many books about th 

general Rights of things and Wrongs of things, for I wer 

mto the literary line myself, when I began life " 

"Did you, though ! " cried the admiring Clemency. 

Yes, said Mr. Britain ; « I was hid for the best part o 

two years behind a bookstall, ready to fly out if anybod' 

pocketed a volume; and after that I was light porter to i 

stay and mantua maker, in which capacity I was employee 

to carry about, in oilskin baskets, nothing but deceptions- 

which soured my spirits and disturbed my confidence ir 



cloud of 

side and 

I he were 

1 that he 

ought he 

nency. 

Jgh." 
fe as she 
able sort 
iing her- 
y at the 
io it, for 
le; now, 

e in that 
an open 
>ses, and 
to turn 
massively 
u know, 

cy. 

[ as her 
abruptly 
mointed 
edy. 

of one 
nth the 
iquiring 
out the 

I went 



part of 
nybody 
er to a 
iployed 
tions — 
;nce in 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. ^gg 

on after all is, that, as a safe and comfortable sweetene? o^ 
Inl E nt.^^tr^'^' '^^'^ ^^^^^ ^^^^' ^^^^ 

hef'by^"^;^^^^^^^^ '^ ""''' ' ^"^«-^^-' b"' ^^ stopped 

;|Com-bined,» he added gravely, "with a thimble." 

Uo as you wold, you know, and cetrcr, eh?" observed 

Clemency, folding her arms comfortably in her delight auh^ 

avowal, and patting her elbows. " Such^a shor cu , ain'fit ^ '' 

"I m not sure," said Mr. Britain, "that it's wha would be 

considered good philosophy. I've my doubts aboTr hat 

but 1 wears well, and saves a quantity of snarling, which the 

genuine article don't always." ^' "® 

said cTemencr "'''' '° ^° '" °"''' '"""'^'' ^°" ^*'^°^''' 

ih/na^ rl ^'^ ^'' ?"^r^"- " ^"* ^^^ «^ost extraordinary 

thing, Clemmy IS that I should live to be brought round 

nrough you. That's the strange part of it. Through you f 

head." '"^^°'^ ^°'' '''^ '° '""''^ ^ ^""^^^ ^^^ ^" W 
I ^If "!^"''yj r'^°''' *^'''"S the least offence, shook it, and 
posf st had." '' ^"'''^'' ''-'' ^"^' "^^°' '^' ^^^^'' '"^ 

i!^? P^'^tty sure of it," said Mr. Britain. 
Oh, I dare say you're right," said Clemency. '- 1 don't 
pretend to none. I don't want any " ^ con c 

Benjamin took his pipe from his lips, and laughed till 
the tears ran down his face. "What a natural you are 
Clemmy," he said, shaking his head, with an infi; ^- relish 
of the joke and wiping his eyes. Clemency, w. at the 

L'Sl'Shr" '° ^"'"'' ^^ ^'^ ^'^ '""^ ^"^ -"g^«^ 
"But I can't help liking you," said Mr. Britain; "you're a 
regiilar good creature in your way; so shake hands, Clem 

SdTyou??'"' ''" '^"'^^ ^^ "°^^^^ °^ y^"' ^"^ bfa 

of yo^" ^°''^" '"'"^'"^ Clemency. "Well, that's very good 



-PI "I 



I F ? M C ^^ 

l»"' if "tfl 



390 THE jflATTLe OP LIPB. 

" Yes, yes," said Mr. Britain, giving her his pipe to knot 
the ashes out of; "I'll stand by you. — Hark I That's 
curious noise ! " 

" Noise 1 " repeated Clemency. 

" A footstep outside. Somebody dropping from the wal 
it sounded like," said Britain. "Are they all abed U] 
stairs ? " 

" Yes, all abed by this time," she replied. 

" Didn't you hear anything ? " 

«No.» 

They both listened, but heard nothing. 

" I'll tell you what," said Benjamin, taking down a lanten 
" I'll have a look round before I go to bed myself, for sati 
faction's sake. Undo the door while I light this, Clemmy.' 

Clemency complied briskly, but observed as she did s 
that he would only have his walk for his pains, that it was a 
his fancy, and so forth. Mr. Britain said, " Very likely," bi 
sallied forth, nevertheless, armed with the poker, and castin 
the light of the lantern far and near in all directions. 

" It's as quiet as a churchyard," said Clemency, lookin 
after him, "and almost as ghostly too." 

Glancing back into the kitchen, she cried fearfully, as 
light figure stole into her view, " What's that ? " 

"Hush!" said Marion, in an agitated whisper, 
have always loved me, have you not?" 

" I^ved you, child ! You may be sure I have." 

" I am sure. And I may trust you, may I not ? 
is no one else just now in whom I can trust." 

" Yes," said Clemen ,-, with all her heart 

"There is some one out there," pointing to the dooi 
••whom I must .see and speak with to-night.— Michac 
Warden, for God's sake retire ! Not now I " 

Clen.ency started with surprise and trouble as, followin 
the direction of the speaker's eyes, she saw a dark figur 
standing in the doorway. 

"In another moment you may be discovered," sai( 
Marion. "Not now. Wait, if you can, in some conceal 
ment 1 will come presently." 

He waved his hand to her, and was gone. 

•* Don't go to bed. Wait here for ms," said Marion huj 



«Yo 



Ther 



There 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 391 

riedly. " I have been seeking to speak to you for an hour 
past. Oh, be true to me ! " 

Eagerly seizing her bewildered hand, and pressing it with 
both her own to her breast— an action more expressive, m 
Its passion of entreaty, th-^n the most eloquent appeal in 
words— Marion withdrew as the light of the returning lantern 
flashed mto the room. 

"All still and peaceable. Nobody there. Fancy, I sup- 
pose, said Mr. Britain, as he locked and barred the door. 
One of the effects of having a lively imagination. Halloa I 
Why, what's the matter?" 

Clemency, who could not conceal the effects of her sur- 
prise and concern, was sitting in a chair, pale, and trembling 
from head to foot. 

"Matter!" she repeated, chafing her hands and elbows 
nervously, and looking anywhere but at him. " That's good 
m you, Britain, that is. After going and frightening one out 
of one's life with noises, and lanterns, and I don't know what 
all. Matter ! Oh, yes." 

"If you're frightened out of your life by a lantern, 
Clemmy," said Mr. Britain, composedly blowing it out and 
hanging it up again, "that apparition's very soon got rid of. 
But you're as bold as brass in general," he said, stopping to 
observe her; "and were, after the noise and the lantern too. 
What have you taken into your head ? Not an idea, eh ? " 

But as Clemency bade him good night v-'y much after 
her usual fashion, and began to bustle about ith a show of 
going to bed herself immediately, little Brita..i, after giving 
utterance to the original remark that it was impossible to 
account for a woman's whims, bade her good night in return, 
and, taking up his candle, strolled drowsily away to bed. 
When all was quiet, Marion returned. 
"Open the door," she said, "and stand there close be- 
side me, while I speak to him, outside." 

Timid as her manner was, it still evinced a resolute and 
settled purpose, such as Clemency could not resist. She 
softly unbarred the door ; but, before turning the key, looked 
round on the young creature waiting to issue forth when she 
should open it. 

The face was not averted or cast down, but looking full 

12a 



rrgp 
5 




39» THE BATTLE OP LIFE, 

upon her, in its pride of youth and beauty. Some simpl« 
sense of the slightness of the barrier that interposed itsell 
between the happy home and honoured love of the fair girl, 
and what might be the desolation of that homt, and ship- 
wreck of its dearest treasure, smote i;o keenly on the tender 
heart of Clemency, and so filled it to overflowing with sorrow 
and compassion, that, bursting into tears, she threw her 
arms round Marion's neck. 

"It's little that I know, my dear,'* cried Clemency, "very 
httle, but I know that this should not be. Think of what 
you do." 

" I have thought of it many times," said Marion gently. 

" Once more," urged Clemency. " Till to-morrow." 

Marion shook her head. 

"For Mr. Alfred's sake," said Qemeni v, with homely ear- 
nestness-i-" him that you used to love so dearly once." 

She hid her face, upon the instant, in her hands, repeating 
•• Once," as if it rent her heart. 

" Let me go out," said Clemency, soothing her. " III tell 
liim what you like. Don't cross the doorstep to-'iight I'm 
sure no good will come of it. Oh, it was an unhappy day 
when Mr. Warden was ever brought here I Think of your 
good father, darling — of your sister." 

"I have," said Marion, hastily raising her head. "You 
don't know what I do ; you don't know what I do. I must 
speak to him. You are the best and truest friend in all the 
worid for what you have said to me, but I must take this 
step. Will you go with me, Clemency "—she kissed her on 
her friendly face— "or shall I go alone?" 

Sorrowing and wondering, ciemency turned the key and 
opened the door. Into the dark and doubtful night that lay 
beyond the threshold, Marion passed quickly, holding by her 
hand. 

In the dark night he joined her, and they spoke together 
earnestly and long ; and the hand thai; held so fast by Clem- 
ency's, now trembled, now turned deadly cold, now clasped 
and closed on hers, in the strong feeling of the speech it em- 
phasized unconsciously. When they returned, he followed 
to the door j and pausing there a moment, seized the other 
hand, and pressed it to his lip& Then stealthily withdrew. 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 393 

«tJ5*ll?' n^Tl*""^ ^"^^^^ ^^'"^ and once again she 
stood beneath her father's roof. Not bowed doHTTby the 
secret that she brought there, though so young ; but with that 
same expression on her face, for which I had So name before, 
and shmmg through her tears. ^ 

Again she thanked and thanked her humble friend, and 
trusted to her, as she said, with confidence, implicitly. Her 
chamber safely reached, she fell upon her kn^s, ^d with 
her secret weighing on her heart, could pray I 

Could rise up from her prayers, so tranquil and serene, and 

face and smile though sadly; murmuring, as she kis^d her 

S'.lf'*^ ^u"" '^' ?^f! ^*^ ^^" ^ '"^^her to her ever, and 
she loved her as a child I 

Could draw the passive arm about her neck when lying 
. own to rest-it seemed to cl-\ig there, of its own will, pre? 
tectingly and tenderiy even in sleep-and breathe upoA the 
parted lips, God bless her I ^ 

Could sink into a peaceful sleep herself, but for one dream, 
m which she cned out, m her innocent and touching voice 
that she was quite a^one, and they had all forgotten her. 

A month soon passes, even at its tardiest pace. The 
month appointed to elapse between that night and the return 
was quick of foot, and went by like a vapour. 

The day arrived. A raging winter day, that shook the old 
house sometimes as if it shivered in the blast A day to 
make home doubly home. To give the chimney corner new 
dehghts To shed a ruddier glow upon the faces gathered . 
round the hearth, and draw each fireside group into a closer 
and more social league against the roaring elements without 
buch a wild winter day as best prepares the way for shut-^out 
night; for curtained rooms and cheerful looks; for music 
laughter, dancing, light, and jovial entertainment 1 

All these the Doctor had in store to welcome Alfi^ back. 
They knew that he could not arrive till right, and ihey would 

M L ^3"^?* ^l ""S' ^® ^*^' ^ he approached. All his 
Old friends should congregate about him. He should not 
miss a fece that he had known and liked. No! They 
sbtijju every one be ^hcT .' 



394 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



So, guests were bidden, and musicians were engaged, an< 
tables spread, and floors prepared for active feet, and bounti 
ful provision made of every hospitable kind Because it wa 
the Christmas season, and his eyes were all unused to Englisl 
holly and its sturdy green, the dancing-room was garlande( 
and hung with it, and the red berries gleamed an Englisl 
welcome to him, peeping from among the leaves. 

It was a busy day for all of them— a busier day for none o 
them than Grace, who noiselessly presided everywhere, an< 
was the cheerful mind of all the preparations. Many a tim( 
that day (as well as many a time within the fleeting montl 
preceding it) did Clemency glance anxiously, and almos 
fearfully, at Mario;i. She saw her paler, pehaps, than usual 
but there was a sweet composure on her face that made i 
lovelier' than ever. 

At night when she was dressed, and wore upon her head i 
wreath that Grace had proudly twined about it — its mimi( 
flowers were Alfred's favourites, as Grace remembered wher 
she chose them—that old expression, pensive, almost sonow 
ful, and yet so spiritual, high, and stirring, sat again upon hei 
brow, enhanced a hundredfold. 

"The next wreath I adjust on this fair head will be s 
marriage wreath," said Grace, "or I am no true prophet 
dear." ^ ^ 

Her sister smiled, and held her in her arms. 

" A moment, Grace. Don't leave me yet. Are you sure 
that I want nothing more ? " 

Her care was not for that. It was her sister's face she 
thought of, and her eyes were fixed upon it tenderly. 

"My art," said Grace, "can go no further, dear girt; noi 
your beauty. I never saw you look so beautiful as now." 

" I never was so happy," she returned. 

"Ay, but there is greater happiness in store. In such 
another home, as cheerful and as bright as this looks now," 
said Grace, " Alfred and his young wife will soon be living." 

She smiled again. "It is a happy home, Grace, in your 
fancy. I can see it in your eyes. I know it zvi// be happy, 
dear. How glad I am to know it" 

" Well," cried the Doctor, bustling in. " Here we are, all 
te»dy for Mred, eh ? He can't be here until pretty late— ^an 



THE BATl'LE OF LIFE. 39f 

hour or so before midnight— so there'll be plenty of time for 
making merry before he comes. He'll not find us with the 
ice unbroken. Pile up the fire here, Britain I Let it shim 
upon the holly till it winks again. It's a world of nonsense, 
Puss; true lovers and all the rest of it— all nonsense; but 
we'll be nonsensical with the rest of 'em, and give our true 
lover a mad weirome. Upon my word ! " said the old Doctor, 
looking at his daughters proudly, "I'm not clear to-night, 
among otl'er absurdities, but that Pm the father of two hand- 
some girls." 

" All that one of them has ever done, or may do— may do, 
dearest father — to cause you pain or grief, forgive her," said 
Marion ; " forgive her now, when her heart is fiill. Say that 
you forgive her. That you will forgive her. That she shall 

always share your love, and " and the rest was not said, 

for her face wrj hidden on the old man's shoulder. 

" Tut, tut, tut," said the Doctor gently. " Forgive I What 
have I tc forgive ? Heyday, if our true lovers come back to 
flurry us like this, we must hold 'em ".t a distance ; we must 
send expressey out to stop 'em short upon the road, and bring 
'em on a mile or two a day, until we're properly prepared 
to meet 'em. Kiss me. Puss. Forgive I Why, what a silly 
child you are ! If you had vexed and crossed me fiftv times 
a day, instead of not at all, I'd forgive you everythmg but 
such a supplication. Kiss me again. Puss. There 1 Pro- 
spective and retrospective — a clear score between us. Pile 
up the fire here ! Would you freeze the people on this bleak 
December night ? Let us be light, and warm, and merry, or 
I'll not forgive some of )'OU ! " 

So gaily the old Doctor carried it ! And the fire was piled 
up, and the lights were bright, and company arrived, and a 
murmuring of lively tongues began, and already there was 
a pleasant air of cheerful excitement stirring through all the 
house. 

More and more company came flocking in. Bright eyes 
sparkled upon Marion ; smiling lips gave her joy of his return ; 
sage mothers fanned themselves, and hoped she mightn't be 
too youthful and inconstant for the quiet round of home ; 
impetuous fathers fe-' ■ Jisgrace for too much exaltation 
nC ber beauty ; daug envied her ; sons envied him ; in- 



n t 




li 




39^ THE BATTLE OF LIFL. 

numerable pain of lovers profited by the occasion j all wen 
interested, animated, and expectant. 

Mr. and Mrs. Craggs came arm in arm, but Mrs. Snitchq 
came alone. "Why, what's become of Aim?" inquired th< 
r tor. ^ 

xhe feather oi' a Bird of Paradise in Mrs. Snitchey's turbar 
trembled, as if the Bird of Paradise were alive again, when sht 
said that doubtless Mr. Craggs knew. SAg was never told. 

"That nasty office," said Mrs. Craggs. 

" I wish it was burnt down," said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" He's —he's— there's a little matter of business that keeps 
ray partner rather late," said Mr. Craggs, looking uneasily 
about him. 

" Oh— h ! Business. Don't tell me I " said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" IVe l^now what business means," said Mrs. Craggs. 

But their not knowing what it meant was perhaps the 
reason why Mrs. Snitchey's Bird of Paradise feather quivered 
so portentously, and all the pendent bits on Mrs. Craggs's 
earrings shook like little bells. 

"I wonder you could come away, Mr. Craggs," said his 
wife. 

" Mr. Craggs is fortunate, I'm sure ! " said Mrs. Snitchey. 

" That office so engrosses 'em," said Mrs. Craggs. 

"A person with an office has no business to be married 
at all," said Mrs. Snitchey 

Then Mrs. Snitchey said, within herself, that that look of 
hers had pierced to Craggs's soul, and he knew it ; and Mrs. 
Craggs observed to C aggs that "his Snitcheys" were deceiv- 
mg him behind his back, and he would find it out when it 
was too late. 

Still Mr. Craggs, without much heeding these remarks, 
looked uneasily about him until his eye rested on Grace, to 
whom he immediately presented himself. 
^ " Good evening, Ma'am," said Craggs. " You look charm- 
mgly. Your— Mis^— your sister. Miss Marion, is she " 

"Oh, she's quite well, Mr. Craggs." 

" Yes— I— is she ^ ere ? " asked Craggs. 

" Here I Don't you see her yonder ? Going to dance ? * 
said Grace. 

Mr. Craggs put on his spectacles to see the better ; looked 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 397 

At her through them for some time ; coughed, and put them, 
with an air of satisfaction, in their sheath again, and in his 
pocket. 

'I'u^?^- ^^^ "^"'''^ ''^''"*-^ "P' ^"^^ ^^^ ^^^^^ commenced. 
I he bright fire crackled and sjiarkled, rose and fell, as though 

»t joined the dance itself, in right good fellowship. Some- 
times It roared as if it would make music too. Sometimes it 
flashed and beamed as if it were the eye of the old room ; it 
winked too, sometimes, like a knowi"- patriarch, upon the 
youthful whisperers in corners. Som.,.mes it sjiorted with 
the holly boughs, and, shining on the leaves by fits and 
starts, made them look as if they were in the cold winter 
night again, and fluttering in the wind. Sometimes its genial 
humour grew obstreperous, and passed all bounds ; and tht n 
It cast into the room, among the twinkling feet, with a loud 
hurst, a shower of harmless little sparks, and in its exultation 
leaped and bounded, like a mad thing, up the broad old 
chimney. 

Another dance wus near its close, when Mr. Snitchey 
touched his partner, who was looking on, upon the arm. 

Mr. Craggs started, as if his familiar had been a sr)ectre. 

"Is he gone? "he asked. 

" Hush I He has been with me," said Snitchey, " for three 
hours and more. He went O' er everything. He looked 
into all our arrangements for ; .m, and was very particular 
indeed. He— Humph!'* 

The dance was finished. Marion passed close before him 
as he spoke. She did not observe him or his partner, but 
looked over her shoulder towards her sister in the distance, 
as she slowly made her way into the crowd, and passed out 
of their view. 

" You see ! All safe and well," said Mr. Craggs. " He 
didn't recur to that subject, I suppose?" 

" Not a word." 

" And is he really gone ? Is he safe away ? " 

" He keeps to his word. He drops down the river with 
the tide in that shell of a boat of his, and so goes out to sea 
on this dark night— a dare-devil he is — before the wind. 
There's no such lonely road anywhere else. That's one 
thing. The tide flows, he says, an hour before midnight 




ft 




398 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

about this time. I'm glad it's over." Mr. Snitchey wipec 
his forehead, which looked hot and anxious. 

" What do you think," said Mr. Craggs, "about " 

"Hush!" replied his cautious partner, looking straight 
before him. "I understand you. Don't mention names, 
and don't let us seem to be talking secrets. I don't know 
what to think ; and to tell you the truth, I don't care now. 
It's a great relief. His self-love deceived him, I suppose. 
Perhaps the young lady coquetted a little. The evidence 
would seem to point that way. Alfred not arrived ? " 
" Not yet," said Mr. Craggs. " Expected every minute." 
" Good." Mr. Snitchey wiped his forehead again. " It's 
a great relief. I haven't been so nervous since we've been 
in partnership. I intend to spend the evening now, Mr. 
Craggs." 

Mrs. Craggs and Mrs. Snitchey joined them as he an- 
nounced this intention. The Bird of Paradise was in a state 
of extreme vibration, and the little bells were ringing quite 
audibly. 

" It has been the theme of general comment, Mr. Snitchey," 
said Mrs. Snitchey. " I hope the office is satisfied." 

"Satisfied with what, my dear?" asked Mr. Snitchey. 

"^Vith the exposure of a defenceless woman to ridicule 
and remark," returned his wife. "That is quite in the way 
of the office, thai is." 

" I really, myself," said Mrs. Craggs, " have been so long 
accustomed to connect the office with everything opposed to 
domesticity, that I am glad to know it as the avowed enemy 
of my peace. There is something honest in that, at all 
events." 

"My dear," urged Mr. Craggs, "your good opinion is 
invaluable, but /never avowed that the office was the enemy 
of your peace." 

" No," said Mr. Craggs, ringing a perfect peal upon the 
little bells.^ " Not you, indeed. You wouldn't be worthy of 
the office, if you had the candour to." 

" As to my having been away to-night, my dear," said Mr. 
Snitchey, giving her his arm, " the deprivation has been mine, 
I'm sure ; but, as Mr. Craggs knows " 

Mrs. Snitchey cut this reference very short by hitching her 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 399 

husband to a distance, and asking him to look at that man- 
to do her the favour to look at him. 

**At which man, my dear?" said Mr. Snitchey. 
SnitchT'*"^ " companion ; ^m no companion to you, Mr. 

II Yes, yes, you are, my dear," he interposed. 

cmnf °' «TY "" "°^'" ^^^ ^'^- Snitchey, with a majestic 
smile. I know my station. Will you look at your chosen 
companion, Mr. Snitchey; at your referee; at the keeper of 

short ?""^^' ^' ""^^ ^°'' ^''"''' ^' y°"' ""^^^^ s^"' »" 

M^^nif^nf '*?^ association of Self with Craggs occasioned 
Mr. bnitchey to look in that direction. 

"If you can look that man in the eye this night," said Mrs. 
Snitchey, "and not know that you are deluded, practised 
upon, made the victim of his arts, and bent down prostrate 
to his will, by some unaccountable fascination which it is 
impossible to explain, and against which no warning of mine 
is of the least avail, all I can say is— I pity you ' " 

At the very same moment Mrs. Craggs was oracular on 
the cross subject. Was it possible, she said, that Craggs 
could so blind himself to his Snitcheys as not to feel his tnie 
position ? Did he mean to say that he had seen his Snitcheys 
come into that room, and didn't plainly see that there was 
reservation, cunning, treachery in the man ? Would he tell 
her that his very action, when he wiped his forehead and 
looked so stealthily about him, didn't show that there was 
something weighing on the conscience of his precious 
bnitcheys (if he had a conscience) that wouldn't bear the 
Ijght ? Did anybody but his Snitchevs come to festive enter- 
tainments hke a burglar?— which, by the way, M-as hardly a 
clear illustration of the case, as he had walked in very mildly 
at the door. And would he still assert to her at noon-day (it 
Ijeing nearly midnight), that his Snitcheys were to be justified 
through thick and thin, against all facts, and reason, and 
experience ? 

Neither Snitchey nor Craggs openly attempted to stem the 
current which had thus set in, but both were content to be 
carried gently along it, until its force abated ; which happened 
at about the same time as a general movement for a country 



^ 



400 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 





IP 



dance ; when Mr. Snitchey proposed himself as a partner 1 
Mrs. Craggs, and Mr. Craggs gallantly offered himself to Mr 
Snitchey ; and after some such slight evasions as " Why dor 
you ask somebody else ? " and " You'll be glad, I know, if 
decline," and " I wonder you can dance out of the office 
(but this jocosely now), each lady graciously accepted, an 
took her place. 

It was an old custom among them, indeed, to do so, an 
to pair off, in like manner, at dinners and suppers ; for tht 
were excellent friends, and on a footing of easy familiarit 
Perhaps the false Craggs and the wicked Snitchey were 
recognized fiction with the two wives, as Doe and Roe, ii 
cessantly running up and down bailiwicks, were with the tv, 
husbands; or perhaps the ladies had instituted, and take 
upon themselves, these two shares in the business, ith( 
than be left out of it altogether. But certain it is, that eac 
wife went as gravely and steadily to work !♦■ her vocation i 
her husband did in his, and would have cc .dered it almoi 
impossible for the Firm to maintain a successful and respec 
able existence without her laudable exertions. 

But now the Bird of Paradise was seen to flutter down th 
middle ; and the little bells began to bounce and jingle i 
poussette ; and the Doctor's rosy face spun round and roun( 
like an expressive pegtop highly varnished; and breathles 
Mr. Craggs began to doubt already whether country dancin 
had been made " too easy," like the rest of life ; and M 
Snitchey, with his nimble cuts and capers, footed it for Sel 
and Craggs, and half a dozen more. 

Now, too, the fire took fresh courage, favoured by th 
lively wind the dance awakened, and burnt clear and higl 
It was the Genius of the room, and present everywhere. 1 
shone in people's eyes, it sparkled in the jewels on the snow 
necJts of girls, it twinkled at their ears as if it whispered t 
them slyly, it flashed about their waists, it flickered on th 
ground and made it rosy for their feet, it bloomed upon th 
ceiling that its glow might set off their bright faces, and 1 
kmdled up a general illumination in Mr. Craggs's littl 
belfry. 

Now, too, the lively air that fanned it grew less gentle a 
the music quickened and the dance proceeded with oei 



It 



little 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 401 

spirit; and a breeze arose that made tne leaves and berries 
dance upon the wall, as they had often done upon the trees 
and rustled m the room as if an invisible company of fairies' 
treadmg in the footsteps of the good substantial revellers,' 
were wh.rhng after them. Now, too, no feature of the 
Doctors face could be distinguished as he spun and spun • 
and now there seemed a dozen Birds of Paradise in fitful 
flight; and now there were a thousand little bells at work 
and now a fleet of flying skirts was ruffled by a little tempest 
—when the music gave in, and the dance was over. 

Hot and breathless as the Doctor was, it only made him 
the more impatient for Alfred's coming. 

II Anything been seen, Britain ? Anything been heard ? " 
Too dark to see far. Sir. Too much noise inside the 
house to hear." 

.u " J^^^'s "g^t ! The gayer welcome for him. How goes 
the time?" =■ 

II Just twelve. Sir. He can't be long. Sir." 
"Stir up the fire, and throw another log upon it," said the 
Uoctor. Let him see his welcome blazing out upon the 
night— good boy !— as he comes along ! " 

He saw it-Yes ! From the chaise he caught the light as 

he turned the comer by the old church. He knew the room 

rom which It shone. He saw the wintry branches of the old 

rees between the light and him. He knew that one of those 

trees rustled musically in the s.irnmer time at the window of 

Marion's chamber. 

The tears were in his eyes. His heart throbbed so vio- 
lently that he could hardly bear his happiness. How often 
he had thought of this time— pictured *it under all circum- 
stances—feared that it might never come-ycarned and 
wearied for it — far away ! 

Again the light! Distinct and ruddy; kindled, he knew, 
to give him welcome, and to speed him home. He beckoned 
with his hand, and waved his hat, and cheered out loud, as 
It the light were they, and they could see and hear him 
as he dashed towards them through the mud and mire 
triumphantly. 

"Stop I" He knew the Doctor, and understood what he 
tiad done. He would not let it be a surprise to them. But 



i» : 



402 THE BATTLE OF LIFE, 

he could make it one, yet, by going forward on foot If th 
orchard gate were open, he could enter there; if not, th 
wall was easily climbed, as he knew of old, and he woul 
be among them in an instant. 

He dismounted from the chaise, and telling the driver- 
even that was not easy in his agitation— to remain behin 
for a few minutes, and then to follow slowly, ran on wit 
exceeding swiftness, tried the gate, scaled the wall, jumpe 
down on the other side, and stood panting in the old orcharc 

There was a frosty rime upon the trees, which, in the fair 
bght of the clouded moon, hung upon the smaller branche 
like dead garlands. Withered leaves crackled and snappei 
beneath his feet, as he crept softly on towards the house 
The desolation of a winter night sat brooding on the earth 
and in the sky. But the red light came cheerily toward 
him froni the windows, figures passed an'' repassed there 
and the hum and murmur of voices greeted nis ear sweetly. 

Listening for hers— attempting, as he crept on, to detach i 
from the rest, and half-believing that he heard it— he ha( 
nearly reached the door, when it was abruptly opened, an( 
a figure coming out encountered his. It instantly recoile( 
with a half-suppressed cry. 

" Clemency," he said, " don't you know me ? " 

" Don't come in ! " she answered, pushing him back. " G( 
away ! Don't ask me why ! Don't come in ! " 

" What is the matter ? " he exclaimed. 

"I don't know. I— I am afraid to think. Go back 
Hark ! " 

There was a sudden tumult in the house. She put hei 
hands upon her ears. A wild scream, such as no hands 
could shut out, was heard; and Grace— distraction in hei 
looks and manner — rushed out at the door. 

" Grace ! " He caught her in his arms. " What is it ? Is 
i.he dead ? " 

She disengaged herself, as if to recognize his face, and fell 
down at his feet. 

A crowd of figures came about them from the house. 
Among them was her father, with a paper in his hand. 

"What is it/" cried Alfred, grasping his hair with his 
hands, and looking in an agony from face to face as he ber 



C( 



Go 



back! 



THE BATTLE OP LIFE .«, 

T^.f 'w^ ^'^oL'XXf '^r """•" "o one S 

gav^wlyr.eThfm''" '°s"?"TJ'' L^^'^ l"" ""- .hey 
staggered back, and su^^do^ 1^ ht^r '' '"""^ ."P°" ">=»., 
ing one of Grace's coW hands7n"is own™" '"""'^' ^'"P" 

disi:^"^'^d\^"7uis:"io*°e"'^ '^"•rf--. - 

themselves about theZd^ and "!„Prr'i^ to disp..,, 

got Kghts, and some S.^ 1^Z^^°°^ ''°^' "'^ «""« 
was no trace or track ,oSm^J°«c''"> '"e"'S that there 
tindly, with the 4Tof oflX^i, f ^ approached him 

ished him that C^, ^^^^^"^^7^1^" k'^T ^'""<"'- 
he prevented it. He never hMrH?i»„ i°,. *^ ''°"'^' ""^ 
. The snow fell fasted thick Hel^t"^ ^' "J"™^ ■""''«'• 

sft^rwX^^fhrnevitf - - - 



PART THE THIRD. 

t-kT^'te o£f ?-r^^^^- Xt 



404 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 






sive welcome there, which spread along the country side as il 
a joyful beacon had been lighted up, and answered from a 
thousand stations. 

How beautiful the landscape kindling in the light, and 
that luxuriant influence passing on like a celestial presence, 
brightening everything ! The wood, a sombre mass before, 
revealed its various tints of yellow, green, brown, red ; its 
different forms of trees, with raindrops glittering on theii 
leaves, and twinkling as they fell. The verdant meadow 
land, bright and glowing, seemed as if it had been blind j 
minute since, and now had found a sense of sight wherewith 
to look up at the shining sky. Com-tields, hedgerows, fences 
homesteads, the clustered roofs, the steeple of the church 
the stream, the water-mill, all sprang out of the gloomy dark 
ness smiling. Birds sang sweetly, flowers raised their droop 
ing heads, fresh scents arose from the invigorated ground 
the blue expanse above extended and diffused itself ; ahead) 
the sun's slanting rays pierced mortally the sullen bank o 
cloud that lingered in its flight j and a rainbow, spirit of al 
the colours that adorned the earth and sky, spanned th( 
whole arch with its triumphant glory. 

At such a time one little roadside Inn, snugly shelterec 
behind a great elm-tree, with a rare seat for idlers encircling 
its capacious bole, addressed a cheerful front towards th( 
traveller, as a house of entertainment ought, and temptcc 
him with many mute but significant assurances of a comfort 
able welcome. The ruddy signboard perched up in th( 
tree, with its golden letters winking in the sun, ogled th( 
passer-by from amoncj the green leaves, like a jolly lace, an( 
promised good cheer. The horse-trough, full of clear fresl 
water, and the ground below it sprinkled with droppings o 
fragrant hay, made ev^ry horse that passed prick up his ears 
The crimson curtains in the lower rooms, and the pure whiti 
hangings in the little bedchambers above, beckoned, Conn 
in 1 with every breath of air. Upon the bright green shutter 
there were golden legends about beer and ale, and neat wines 
and good beds ; and an affecting picture of a brown jug froth 
ing over at the top. Upon the window-sills were flowerin 
plants in bright red pots, which made a lively show agains 
the white front of the house; and m the darkness of th 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 401 

dcK>rway there were streaks of light, which glanced off from 
the surfaces of bottles and tankards. 

f J^"f^I?^K'^°°?''f appeared a proper figure of a landlord 
too, for though he was a short man. he was round and 
broad and stood with his hands in his pockets, and his legs 
just wide enough apart to express a mind at rest upon the 
subject of the cellar, and an easy confidence— too calm and 
t'hl Tnn" '^^^^"'^ a swagger-in the general resources of 
me inn. The superabundant moisture, trickling from every- 
thing after the late ram, set him off well. Nothing near him 
was thirsty. Certain top-heavy dahUas, looking over the 
palings of his neat, well-ordered garden, had swilled as much 
as they could carry— perhaps a trifle more— and may have 
been the worse for liquor; but the sweet-brier, roses, wall- 
flowers, the plants at the windows, and the leaves in the old 
tree, were in the beaming state of moderate company that 
had taken no more than was wholesome for them, and had 
served to develop their best qualities. Sprinkling dewy drops 
about them on the ground, they seemed profuse of innocent 
and sparkling mirth, that did good where it lighted, softening 
neglected corners which the steady rain could seldom reach! 
and hurting nothing. 

This village Inn had assumed, on being established, an 
uncommon sign. It was called The Nutmeg Grater. And 
underneath that household word was inscribed, up in the 
tree, on the same flaming board, and in the like golden 
characters. By Benjamin Britain. 

At a second glance, and on a more minute examination of 
his face, you might have known that it was no other than 
«enjamm Britain himself who stood in the doorway— reason- 
ably changed by time, but for the better; a very comfortable 
host indeed. 

"Mrs. B.,"said Mr. Britain, looking down the road, "is 
rather late. It's tea-time." 

As there was no Mrs. Britain coming, he strolled leisurely 
out into the road and looked up at the house, very much tu 
his satisfaction. « It's just the sort of house," said Benjamin, 
i should wish to stop at, if I didn't keep it." 

Then he strolled towards the garden paling, and took a 
look at the dahlias. They looked over at him with a help- 



Ill 



406 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

less, drowsy hanging of their heads, which bobbed again > 
the heavy drops of wet dripped ofiF them. 

" You must be looked after," said Benjamin. " Memo 
andum, not to forget to tell her so. She's a long tin 
coming ! " 

Mr. Britain's better half seemed to be so very much li 
better half, that his own moiety of himself was utterly ca 
away and helpless without her. 

"She hadn't much to do, I think," said Ben. "The 
were a few little matters of business after market, but n 
many. Oh ! here we are at last ! " 

A chaise-cart, driven by a boy, came clattering along tl 
road ; and seated in it, in a chair, with a large weU-saturate 
umbrella spread out to dry behind her, was the plump figu 
of a matronly woman, with her bare arms folded across 
basket wliich she carried on her knee, several other baske 
and parcels lying crowded about her, and a certain brig 
good-nature in her face and contented awkwardness in h 
manner, as she jogged to and fro with the motion of h 
carriage, which smacked of old times, even in the distanc 
Upon her nearer approach, this relish of bygone days w 
not diminished ; and when the cart stopped at the Nutnv 
Grater door, a pair of shoes, alighting from it, slipped nimb 
through Mr. Britain's open arms, and came down with 
substantial weight upon the pathway, which shoes cou 
hardly have belonged to any one but Clemency Newcome. 

In fact they did belong to her, and she stood in thei 
and a rosy, comfortable-looking soul she was ; with as mu( 
soap on her glossy face as in times of yore, but with whc 
elbows now, that had grown quite dimpled in her improv( 
condition. 

" You're late. Clammy ! " said Mr. Britain. 

" Why, you see, Ben, I'v« had a deal to do ! " she replie 
looking busily after the safe removal into the house of all tl 
packages and baskets; "eight, nine, ten — where's elevei 
Oh ! my baskets, eleven ! It's all right. Put the horse u 
Harry ; and if he coughs again, give him a warm mash t 
night Eight, nine, ten. Why, where's eleven? Oh, 
forgot; it's all right. Ho the children, Ben?" 

"Hearty, Clemmy, hearty." 



THE BATTLE OP LIFE. 407 

. " Bless their precious faces ! " said Mrs. Britain, unbonnet- 
mg her own round countenance (lor she and her husband 
were by this time in the bar), and smoothing her hair with 
her open hands. « Give us a kiss, old man." 

Mr. Britain promptly complied. 

"I think," said Mrs. Britain, applying herself to her 
pockets and drawing forth an immense bulk of thin books 
and crumpled papers, a very kennel of dogs' ears, "I've 
done everything. Bills all settled-turnips sold-brewer's 
account looked into and paid-'bacco pipes ordered-Teven- 
teen pound four paid into the Bank— Doctor Heathf.e'd's 
HeS M ^'"^f Clem-you'll guess what that is-6^fo' 
Heathfield won't take nothing again, Ben." 

« Jj*^°"g^^ he wouldn't," returned Britain. 
K.'^ ^° ^^^ whatever family you was to have, Ben. 

hed never put you to the cost of a halfpenny. Not if yoJ 
was to have twenty." ^ ut ii jou 

Mr. Britain's face assumed a serious expression, and he 
looked hard at the wall. 
"Ain't it kind of him?" said Clemency. 

fh.7r^'^''\T^'^^^ ^'' ^"^^'"- " ^^'s ^^^ sort of kindness 
mat 1 wouldn t presume upon, on any account." 

No, ' retorted Clemency. '« Of course not Then 
ain't Ld!llT-~^^ fetched eight pound two; and that 

I* It's very good," said Ben. 

"I'm glad you're pleased!" exclaimed his wife "I 
thought you would be; and I think that's all, and "so no 
more at present from yours and cetrcr, C. Britain. Ha, ha, 
na! Ihere! Take all tne papers, and lock 'em up. Oh 1 
wait a minute. Here's a printed bill to stick on the wall 
H et trom the printer's. How nice it smells ! " 

"What's this?' said Tim, looking over the document. 
^f itl ' "''''''" ''^P''*''^ h'^ ^'fe- " I hav<^"'t read a word 

r 'V^^..^ ^P^"^ ^y Auction,'" read the host of the Nutmeg 
uS^ ^"^^-^^ previously disposed of by private contract • " 
They always put that," said Clemency. 

"tZS^k*""' }^f^ ^°"? ^^"^^y^ P"' ^^'^" he returned. 
Look here, 'Mansion,' etc— * offices,' etcx, 'shrubberies,* 




408 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

etc, 'ring fence/ etc 'Messrs. Snitchey and Craggs,' e 
♦ornamental portion of the unencumbered freehold propt 
of Michael Warden, Esquire, intending to continue to res 

abroad!'" 

"Intending to continue to reside abroad 1" repea 

Clemency. 

« Here it is," said Mr. Britain. " Look I " 

" And it was only this very day that I heard it whispc 
at the old house that better and plainer news had been 1 
promised of her soon 1 " said Clemency, shaking her h 
sorrowfully, and pattii.g her elbows as if the recoUectioi 
Old times unconsciously awakened her old habits. " D 
oeai, dear I There'll be heavy hearts, Ben, yonder." 

Mr. Britain heaved a sigh, and shook his head, and i 
he couldn't make it out— he had left off trying long s 
With that remark, he applied himself to putting up the 
just inside the bar window ; and Clemency, after medita 
in silence for a few moments, roused herself, cleared 
thoughtful brow, and bustled off to look after the childrei 

Though the host of the Nutmeg Grater had a lively rej 
for his good-wife, it was of the old patronizing kind; 
she amused him mightily. Nothing would have astonis 
him so much as to have known for certain from any t 
party that it was she who managed the whole house, 
made him, by her plain straightforward thrift, good-hum 
honesty, and industry, a thriving man. So easy it is, in 
degree of life (as the world very often faids it), to take tl 
cheerful natures that never assert their merit, at their 
modest valuation ; and to conceive a flippant liking of 
pie for their outward oddities and eccentricities, whose in 
worth, if we would look so far, might make us blusl 
the comparison I 

It was comfortable to Mr. Britain to think of his 
condescension in having married Clemency. She wi 
perpetual testimony to him of the goodness of his \ 
and the kindness of his disposition ; and he felt that 
being an excellent wife was an illustration of the old pre 
that virtue is its own reward 

He had finished wafering up the bill, and had lockec 
wouchere for her day's proceedings in the cupbcird— ct 



ggs,' etc., 
I property j 
; to reside 

repeatct) 



whispered 

been halt" 

her head 

llection of 

, " Dear, 

, and s.'Jd 
long ago. 
ip the bill 
-neditating 
eared her 
hildren. 
^ely regard 
kind ; and 
astonished 
any third 
lOUse, and 
d-humour, 
t is, in any 
take those 
their own 
ng of peo- 
lose innate 
s blush in 

)f his own 
>he was a 
his heart 
It that her 
Did precept 

locked the 
rd— chuck* 



THt BATTLE OF LIFE. 4O9 

fing all the time over her capacity for business— when, re- 
turning with the news that the two Master Britains were 
playing m the coach-house, under the superintendence of 
one Betsey, and that little Clem was sleeping "like a 
picture," she sat down to tea, which had awaited her arrival, 
on a little teble. It was a very neat little bar, with the usual 
display of bottles and glasses ; a sedate clock, right to the 
mmute (it was half-past five); everything in its place, and 
everything furbished and polished up to the very utmost. 

" It's the first time I've sat down quietly to-day, 1 declare " 
said Mrs. Britain, taking a long breath, as if she ad sit 
down for the night; but getting up again immediately to 
hand her husband his tea, and cut him his bread-and-butter. 
" How that bill does set me thinking of old times I " 

"Ah ! " said Mr. Britain, handling his saucer like an oyster 
and disposing of its contents on the same principle. 

"That same Mr. Michael Warden," said Clemency, shak- 
mg her head at the notice of sale, " lost me my old place." 

" And got you your husband," said Mr. Britain. 

"Weill So he did," retorted Clemency, "and many 
thanks to him." ^ 

" Man's the creature of habit," said Mr. Britain, surveying 
her over his saucer. "I had somehow got used to you, 
Clem, and I found I shouldn't be able to get on without 
you. So we went and got made man and wife. Ha, ha 1 
We 1 Who'd have thought it ? " 

"Who indeed?" cried Clemency. " It was very good of 
you, Ben." 

"No, no, no," replied Mr. Britain, with an air of self- 
denial. " Nothing worth mentioning." 
^ "Oh, yes, it was, Ben," said his wife, with great simplicity; 
"I'm sure I think so, and am very much obliged to you. 
Ah {"looking again at the bill; "when she was known to 
be gone, and out of reach, dear giri, 1 couldn't help tell- 
ing—for her sake quite as much as theirs— what I knew, 
could I ? " 

" You told it, anyhow," observed her husband. 

'' And Doctor Jeddler," pursued Clemency, putting down 
her tea-cup, and looking thoughtfully at the bill, "in his 
gnef and passion, turned me oui J house and home ,' I 




I »■, 




4tO TIIE BATTLB OP LIFB. 

never have been so glad of anything in all my life, as that 
didn't say an angry word to him, and hadn't an angry feelir 
towards him, even then ; for he repented that truly, afte 
wards. How often he has sat in this room, and told n 
over and over again he was sorry for it ! — the last time, on 
yesterday, when you were out How often he has sat in th 
room, and talked to me, hour after hour, about one thir 
and another, in which he made-believe to be interested !- 
but only for the sake of the days that are gone away, ar 
because he knows she used to like me, Ben I " 

" Why, how did you ever come to catch a glimpse of tha 
Clem ? " asked her husband, astonished that she should ha^ 
a distinct perception of a truth which had only dimly su 
gested itself to his inquiring mind. 

" I don't know, I'm sure," said Clemency, blowing her t< 
to coolit. "Bless you, I couldn't tell you if you was 
offer me a reward of a hundred pound." 

He might have pursued this metaphysical subject but f 
her catching a glimpse of a substantial fact behind him, 
the shape of a gentleman attired in mourning, and cloakt 
and booted like a rider on horseback, who stood at the b 
door. He seemed attentive to their conversation, and not 
all impatient to interrupt it. 

Clemency hastily rose at thi^ sight. Mr. Britain also ro 
and saluted the guest. "Will you please to walk upstaii 
Sir ? There's a very nice room upstairs, Sir." 

" Thank you," said the stranger, looking earnestly at M 
Britain's wife. " May I come in here ? " 

" Oh, surely, if you like. Sir," returned Clemency, admittii 
him. " What would you please to want, Sir ? " 

The bill had caught his eye, and he was reading it. 

" Excellent property that, Sir," observed Mr. Britain. 

He made no answer, but turning round, when he hi 
finished reading, looked at Clemency with the same obsei 
ant curiosity as before. "You were asking me," he sal 
still looking at her 

" What you would please to take. Sir," answered Clemenc 
stealing a glance at him in return. 

" If you will let me have a draught of ale," he said, movii 
to a table by the window, "and will let me have it hei 



and 






THE BATTLE OF LTFE. 411 

S^'ft t*?y'?u/"^ interruption to your meal, I shall be much . 

i^tl^* ?T" ""* ^"^ '^'"^^' ''''^^*°"' *"y further parley, and 
looked ou at ;ne prospect He was an easy well-knit tere 
of a man m the pnme of life. His face, much browneTbJ 
a mou5 J^ shaded by a quantity of dark hair, and he wore 
a rnoustache. His beer bemg set before him, he filled out a 
glass, and drank good-humouredly to the house, adding, as 
he put the tumbler down again,— *' 

" It's a new house, is it not ? " 

•|Not particularly new. Sir," replied Mr. Britain. 

very dSctly """^ "' ^""^ °^^'" ^'^ ^^^'"^"^y* '^'^^S 
1 "^J]''"'^,^. ^ea;d you mention Doctor Jeddler's name, as 
if^^.f' VT^'^d the stranger. "That bill reminds me 
01 him, for I happen to know something of that story, bv 
hearsay, and through certain connections of mine—Is the 
old man living ? " 

"Yes, he's living. Sir," said Clemency. 
Much changed ? '* 

JIkI"-^ ^^f""* ^'^" '^^""^^^ Clemency, with remarkable 
emphasis and expression. 

" Since his daughter — went away." 

« " Jf ' ^^'' y^Jy '^^":^^^ "'"^^ ^^^n'" said Clemency. 
.11 K Fi^L^""? t°'?' .^""^ ^^•'^"'^ *^« ^'"e way with him at 
all ; but I think he's happy now. He has taken on with his 
sister since then, and goes to see her very often. That did 
him good directly. At first, he was sadly broken down : and 
it was enough to make one's heart bleed to see him wander- 
ing about, railing at the world; but a great change for th^ 
better came over him after a year or two, and then he 
began to like to talk about his lost daughter, and to praise 
her, ay and the world tool and was never tired of saying 
with the tears m his poor eyes, how beautiful and gocS 
she was. He had forgiven her then. That was aboul 
^t,?"^^ ^ ^^'^^^ Grace's marriage. Britain, you » 

Mr. Britain remembered very well. 
•The^ sister is married, then," returned the stran«er He 
paused jor some time before he asked "To whom ?^ 



412 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Clemenc> narrowly escaped oversetting the tea-boara in 
her emotion at this question. 

" Did you never hear?" she said. 

** I should like to hear," he replied, as he filled his glass 
again, and raised it to his lips. 

"Ah ! It would be a long story, if it was properly told," 
said Clemency, resting her chin on the palm of her left hand, 
and supporting that elbow on her right hand, as she shook 
her head, and looked back through the intervening years, as 
if she were looking at a fire. " It would be a long story, I 
am sure." 

" But told as a short one," suggested the stranger. 

"Told as a short one," repeated Clemency in the same 
thoughtful tone, and without any apparent reference to him, 
or consciousness of having auditors, " what would there be to 
tell ? That they grieved together, and remembered her to- 
gether, like a person dead ; that they were so tender of her, 
never would reproach her, called her back to one another as 
she used to be, and found excuses for her? Every one 
knows that. I'm sure / do. No one better," added Clem- 
ency, wiping her eyes with her hand. 

" And so," suggested the stranger. 

"And so," said Qemency, taking him up mechanically, 
and without any change in her attitude or manner, " they at 
last were married. They were married on her birthday — it 
comes round again to-morrow — very quiet, very humble-like, 
but very happy. Mr. Alfred said, one night when they were 
walking in the orchard, 'Grace, shall our wedding-day he 
Marion's birthday ? ' And it was." 

"And they have lived happily together? " said the stranger, 

"Ay," said Clemency. "No two people ever more so, 
They have had no sorrow but tV is." 

She raised her head as with a sudden attention to the 
circumstances under which she was recalling these events, 
and looked quickly at the stranger. Seeing that his face was 
turned towards the window, and that he seemed intent upor 
the prospect, she made some eager signs to her husband, anc 
pointed to the bill, and moved her mouth as if she were 
repeating, with great energy, one word or phrase to him ovei 
and over again. As she uttered no sounc^ and as bar dumb 



* 



THE BATTLE OF LIVE. 413 

motions like most of lier gestures, were of a very extraordi- 
nary kind this un.ntelligib' conduct reduced Mr. Britain 
to the confines of despair. He stared at the table, at the 
stranger, at the spoons, at his wife-followed her pant(> 
jn.me with looks of deep amazement and perplexity-asked 
in the snr^v language, was it property in danger, was it he in 

^.;^'''fr^'^''^'''^ ^^^ '"g"^^^ ^''^ «^'^^^ signals 
thfr ■"■ r' '^^^i^'''' ^'^'''''^ ^"^ confusion-followed 
the r..;oiions of kt lips-guessed half aloud "milk and 

wate,"montl.Jy warning," "mice and walnuts "- and 
couldn't ap[)roach her meaning. 

Clemency gave it up at last, as a hopeless attempt ; and 
moving her chair by very slow degrees a little nearer to the 
stranger, sat with her eyes apparently cast down, but glancing 
.harply at him now and then, waiting until he should ask 
some other question. She had not to wait long, for he 
said preseniiy, — °' ^ 

"And what is the after history of the young lady who 
went away? They know it, I suppose ? " S ^^^y wno 

1 ).^!''"'?"?n'^"°^ u""' ^*^^• " ^■'■^' ^^'^^d'" '^'^ said, ■ tnat 
Doctor Jeddler is thought to know more of it than he tells 

Miss Grace has had letters from her sister, saying that she- 
was well and happy, and made much happier by her bein- 
married to Mr. Alfred ; and has written letters back But 
there s a mystery about her life and fortunes, altogether 
which nothing has cleared up to tin's hour, and which- " ' 

She faltered here, and stopped. 

" And which " repeated the stranger. 

•'Which only one other person, I believe, could explain, 
said Clemency, drawing her breath quickly. 

" Who may that be ? " asked the stranger. 

''Mr. Michael Warden !" answered Clemency, almost in a 
shriek; at once conveying to her husband what she would 
lave had him understand before, and letting Michael Warden 
know that he was recognized. 

"You remember me, Sir," said Clemency, trembling with 
emotion ; ^ I saw just now you did ! You remember me, 
that night in the garden. I was with her 1 " 

"Yes. You were," he said. 

" Yes, Sir," returned Clemency. " Yes, to be sure. This 




414 THE BATTLE OF LIFE, 

is my husband, if you please. Ben, my dear Ben, run t( 
Miss Grace— run to Mr. Alfred— run somewhere, Ben 
Bring somebody here, directly 1 " 

" Stay ! " said Michael Warden, quietly interposmg himsel 
between the door and Britain. " What would you do ? " 

"Let them know that you are here, Sir," answerer 
Clemency, clapping her hands in sheer agitation. "Lt 
them know that they may hear of her, from your own lips 
let them know that she is not quite lost to them, but th£ 
she will come home again yet, to bless her father and he 
lovipg sister— even her old servant, even me," she struc 
herself upon the breast with both hands, "with a sight ( 
her sweet face. Run, Ben, run!" And still she presse 
him on towards the door, and still Mr. Warden stood befoi 
it, with his hand stretched out, not angrily, but sorrov 

" Or perhaps," said Clemency, running past her husban< 
and catching in her emotion at Mr. Warden's cloak— "pe 
haps she's here now ; perhaps she's close by. I think fro 
your manner she is. Let me see her. Sir, if you please ! 
waited on her when she was a little child. I saw her grc 
to be the nride of all this place. I knew her when she w 
Mr. Alfred's promised wife. I tried to warn her when yc 
tempted her away. I know what her old home was wh( 
she was like the soul of it, and how it changed when si 
was gone and lost. Let me speak to her, if you please ! 

He gazed at her with compassion, not unmixed with wo 
der ; but he made no gesture of assent. 

"I don't think she can know," pursued Clemency, "he 
truly they forgive her ; how they love her ; what joy it wou 
be to them to see her once more ! She may be timorous 
going home. Perhaps if she sees me, it may give her n( 
heart. Only tell me truly, Mr. Warden, is she with you? 

" She is not," he answered, shaking his head. 

This answer, and his manner, and his black dress, and I 
coming back so quietly, and his announced intention of c< 
tinuing to live abroad, explained it all. Marion was dead 

He didn't contradict her ; yes, she was dead 1 Clemer 
sat down, hid her face upon the table, and cried. 

W that moment a grey-headed old gentleman came x\ 



run to 
, Ben! 

himselt 
)?" 

iswered 
"Let 
irn lips ; 
)ut that 
and her 
; struck 
sight of 

pressed 
i before 

sorrow- 

Lusband, 
: — " per- 
nk from 
;ase ! I 
ler grow 
she was 
hen you 
as when 
•hen she 
ise!'' 
rith won- 



:y. 



"how 



it would 
lorous of 
her new 
you?" 

;, and his 
n of con- 
; dead! 
Clemency 

ame ruQ' 



THE BATTLE OF LITE. 4*5 

ning in quite out of breath, and panting so much that his 
voice was scarcely to be recognized as the voice of Mr. 

Snitchey. . 

' Good Heaven, Mr. Warden ! " said the lawyer, taking 

him aside, " what wind has blown " He was so blown 

himself that he couldn't get on any further until after a 
pause, when he added feebly, "you here?" 

"An ill wind, I am afraid," he answered. "If you could 
have heard what has just passed— how I have been besought 
and entreated to perform impossibilities — what confusion and 
affliction I carry with me ! " 

" I can guess it all But why did you ever come here, my 
good Sir?" retorted Snitchey. 

"Come! How should I knov, who kept the house? 
When I sent my servant on to you, I strolled in here be- 
cause the place was new to me ; and I had a natural curi- 
osity in everything new and old, in these old scenes ; and 
it was outside the town. I wanted to communicate with 
you first, before appearing there. I wanted to know what 
people would say to me. I see by your manner that you 
can tell me. If it were not for your confounded caution, I 
should have been possessed of everything long ago." 

" O"' caution ! " returned the lawyer. " Speaking for Self 
and rs_deceased," here Mr. Snitchey, glancing at his 

hat-L . shook his head, "how can you reasonably blame 
us, Mr. Warden ? It was understood between us that the 
subject was never to be renewed, and that it wasn't a subject 
on which grave and sober men like us (I made a note of your 
observations at the time) could interfere? Our caution too ! 
when Mr. Craggs, Sir, went down to his respected grave m 
the full belief- 



" I had given a solemn promise of silence until I should 
return, whenever that might be," interrupted Mr. Warden ; 
"and I have kept it." 

"Well, Sir, and l" repeat it," returned Mr. Snitchey, "we 
were bound to silence too. We were bound to silence in 
our duty towards ourselves, and in our duty towards a variety 
of clients, you among them, who were as close as wax. It 
was not our place to make inquiries of you on such a deli 
cdte subject I had my suspicions, Sir ; but it is not^ su 



i . 



^1 

I?! 




I 
m 



416 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

months since I have known the truth, and been assured 

that you lost her." 

" By whom ? " inquired his client. 

" By Doc^^or Jeddler himself, Sir, who at last reposed that 
confidence in me voluntarily. He, and only he, has known 
the whole truth, years and years." 
"And you know it?" said his client 
"I do, Sir!" replied Snitchey; "and I have also reason 
to know that it will be broken to her sister to-morrow even- 
ing. They have given her that promise. In the meantime, 
perhaps you'll give me the honour of your company at my 
house, being unexpected at your own. But, not to run the 
chance of any more such difficulties a? you have had here, 
in case you should be recognized— though you're a ^ood 
deal changed; I think I might have passed you myself, 
Mr. Wardesn— we had better dine here, and walk on in the 
evening. It's a very good place to dine at, Mr. Warden— 
your own property, by-the-bye. Self and Craggs (deceased) 
took a chop here sometimes, and had it very comfortably 
served. Mr. Craggs, Sir," said Snitchey, shutting his eyes 
tight for an instant, and opening them again, "was struck off 
the roll of life too sooa" 

" Heaven forgive me for not condoling with you," returned 
Michael Warden, passing his hand across his forehead, " but 
I'm like a man in a dream at present. I seem to want my 
wits. Mr. Craggs— yes— I am very sorry we have lost Mr. 
Craggs." But he looked at Clemency as he said it, and 
seemed to sympathize with Ben consoling her. 

"Mr. Craggs, Sir," observed Snitchey, "didn't find life, I 
regret to say, as easy to have and to hold as his theory made 
it out, or he would have been among us now. It's a great 
loss to me. He was my right arm, my right leg, my right 
ear, my right eye, was Mr. Craggs. I am paralytic without 
him. He bequeathed his share of the business to Mrs. 
Craggs, her executors, administrators, and assigns. ^ His 
name remains in the Firm to this hour. I try, in a childish 
sort of a way, to make-believe, sometimes, that he's alive. 
You may observe that I speak for Self and Craggs— deceased. 
Sir— deceased," said the tender-hearted attorney, wavmg his 
pocket-handkei chiei 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



417 



Michaei Warden, who had still beer- ob.-er;ant of Clem- 
ency, turned to Mr. Snitchey, when he ceased to speak, and 
whispered in his ear. 

" Ah, poor thing ! " said Snitchey, shaking his head. " Yes. 
She was always very faithful to Marion. She was always very 
fond of her. Pretty Marion I Poor Marion ! Cheer up, 
Mistress ; you are married now, you know, Cleiuency." 

Clemency only sighed, and shook her head. 

"Well, well! Wait till to-r>orrow," said the lawyer 
kindly. 

"To-morrow can't bring back the dead to life, Mister," 
said Clemency, sobbing. 

" No J it can't do that, or it would brirg'back Mr. Craggs, 
deceased," returned the lawyer. "But it may bring some 
soothing circumstances j it may bring some comfort. V'ait 
till to-morrow ! " 

So Clemency, shaking his proffered hand, said that she 
would; and Britain, who had been terribly cast down at 
sight of his despondent wife (which was like the business 
hanging its head), said that was right; and Mr. Snitchey 
and Michael Warden went upstairs, and there they were 
soon engaged in a conversation so cautiously conducted that 
no murmur of it was audible above the clatter of plates and 
dishes, the hissing of the fr)'ing-pan, the bubbling of sauce- 
pans, the low monotonous waltzing of the Jack-— with a 
dreadful click every now and then as if it had met with some 
mortal accident to its head, in a fit of giddiness — and all 
the other preparations in the kitchen for their dinner. 

To-morrow was a bright and peaceful day, and nowhere 
were the autumn tints more beautifully seen than from the 
quiet orchard of che Doctor's house. The snows of many 
winter nights had melted from that ground, the withered 
leaves of many summer times had rustled there, since she 
had fled The honeysuckle porch was green again, the 
trees cast bountiful and changing shadows on the grass, the 
landscape was as tranquil and serene as it had ever been; 
but where was she ? 

Not there. Not there. She would have been a stranger 
sight in her old home now, even than that home had be^ 



I •> 



If 



418 THE BATTLE OF LITE. 

at first without her. But a lady sat in the familiar place, 
from whose heart she had never passed away ; in whose true 
memory she lived, unchanging, youthful, radiant with all 
promise and all hope; in whose affection— and it was a 
mother's now (there was a cherished little daughter playing 
by her side)— she had no rival, no successor ; upon whose 
gentle lips her name was trembling then. 

The spirit of the lost girl looked out of those eyes— those 
eyes oC Grace, her sister, sitting with her husband in the 
orchard, on their wedding-day, and his and Marion's birth- 
day. 

He had not become a great man ; he had not grown nch ; 
he had not forgotten the scenes and friends of his youth : 
he had not fulfilled any one of the Doctor's old predictions. 
But in his useful, patient, unknown visiting of poor men's 
homes ; and in his watching of sick-beds ; and in his daily 
knowledge of the gentleness and goodness flowering the by- 
paths of the world, not to be trodden down beneath the 
heavy foot of poverty, but springing up, elastic, in its track, 
and making its way beautiful— he had better learned and 
proved, in each succeeding year, the truth of his old faith. 
The manner of his life, though quiet and remote, had shown 
him how often men still entertained angels, unawares, as in 
the olden time; and how the most unlikely forms— even 
some that were mean and ugly to the view, and poorly clad 
— became ii radiated by the couch of sorrow, want, and pain, 
and changed to ministering spirits with a glory round their 

rlG3.QS 

He lived to better purpose on the altered battle-ground, 
perhaps, than if he had contended restlessly in more ambi- 
tious lists ; and he was happy with his wife, dear Grace. 

And Marion. Had ^ forgotten her ? 

"The time has flown, dear Grace," he said, "since then' 
—they had been talking of that night— "and yet it seems a 
long, long while ago. We count by changes and event: 
within us ; not by years." 

" Yet we have years to count by, too, since Manon wai 
with us," returned Grace. " Six times, dear husband, count 
ing to-night as one, we have sat here on her birthday, anc 
spoken together of that happy return, so eagerly expecttt 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



419 



and so long deferred. Ah, when will it be! When will 
it be ! " 

Her husband attentively observed her, as the tears collected 
in her eyes, and drawing nearer, said, — 

" But Marion told you, in that farewell letter which she 
left for you upon your table, love, and which you read so 
often, that years must pass away before it could be. Did 
she not?" 

She took a letter from her breast, and kissed it, and said, 
"Yes." 

" That through those intervening years, however happy she 
might be, she would look forward to the time when you would 
meet again, and all would be made clear ; and prayed you, 
trustfully and hopefully, to do the same. The letter runs so, 
does it not, my dear ? " 

"Yes, Alfred" 

"And every other letter she has written since?" 

" Except the last — some months ago — in which she spoke 
of you, and what you then knew, and what I was to learn to- 
night." 

He looked towards the sun, then fast declining, and said 
that the appointed time was sunset. 

" Alfred I " said Grace, laying her hand upon his shoulder 
earnestly, " there is something in this letter— this old letter, 
which you say I read so often— that I have never told you. 
But to-night, dear husband, with that sunset drawing near, 
and all our life seeming to soften and become hushed with 
the departing day, I cannot keep it secret." 

"What is it, love?" 

"When Marion went away, she wrote me, here, that you 
had once left her a sacred trust to me, and that now she left 
you, Alfred, such a trust in my hands— praying and beseech- 
ing me, as I loved her, and as I loved you, not to reject the 
affection she believed (she knew, she said) you would transfer 
to me when the new wound was healed, but to encourage and 
return it." . 

"And make me a proud and happy man agam, Grace 

Did she say so ? " 

" She meant, to make myself so blest and honoured m your 
love," was his wife's answer, as he held her in his arms. 



420 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 




« 



" Hear me, my dear ! " he said " No. Hear me so f "— 
and as he spoke, he gently laid the head she had raisec 
again upon his shoulder. " I know why I have never heart 
this passage in the letter until now. I know why no trao 
of it ever showed itself in any word or look of yours at tha 
time. I know why Grace, although so true a riend to me 
was hard to win to be my wife. And knowing it, my own 
I know the priceless value of the heart I gird within m) 
arms, and thank God for the rich possession ! " 

She wept, but not for sorrow, as he pressed her to his heart 
After a brief space, he looked down at the child, who was 
sitting at their feet, playing with a little basket of flowers, 
and bade her look how go den and how red the sun was. 

"Alfred," said Grace, raising her head quickly at these 
words, "the sun is going down. You have not forgotten 
what I am to know before it sets." 

" You are to know the truth of Marion's history, my love," 
he answered. 

"All the truth," she said imploringly. "Nothing veiled 
from me any more. That was the promise, was it not ? " 

" It was," he answered. 

" Before the sun went down on Marion's birthday. And 
you see it, Alfred ? It is sinking fast." 

He put his arm about her waist, and, looking steadily into 
her eyes, rejoined, — 

"That truth is not reserved so long for me to tell, dear 
Grace. It is to come from other lips." 

" From other lips ! " she faintly echoed. 

" Yes. I know your constant heart ; I know how brave you 
are ; I know that to you a word of preparation is enough. 
You have said, truly, that the time is come. It is. Tell me 
that you have present fortitude to bear a trial — a surprise — a 
shock — and the messenger is waiting at the gate." 

"What messenger?" she said. "And what intelligence 
does he bring?" 

"I am pledged," he answered her, preserving his steady 
look, " to say no more. Do you think you understand me ? " 

" I am afraid to think," she said. 

There was that emotion in his face, despite its steady 
gaze, which frightened her. Again she hid her own face 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 421 

on his shoulder, trembling, and entreated him to pause— a 
moment. 

" Courage, my wife ! When you have firmness to receive 
the messenger, the messenger is waiting at the gate. The sun 
is setting on Marion's birthday. Courage, courage, Grace ! " 

She raised her head, and, looking at him, told him she was 
ready. As she stood, and looked upon him going away, her 
face was so like Marion's as it had been in her later days at 
home that it was wonderful to see. He took the child with 
him. She called her back— she bore the lost girl's name— 
and pj-esjed her to her bosom. The little creature, being 
released again, sped after him, and Grace was left alone. 

She knew not what she dreaded, or what hoped, but re- 
mained there, motionless, looking at the porch by which they 
had disappeared. 

Ah ! what was that, emerging from its shadow — standing 
on its threshold ? that figure, with its white garments rustling 
in the evening air; its head laid down upon her father's 
breast, and pressed against it to his loving heart ? Oh, God ! 
was it a vision that came bursting from the old man's arms, 
and with « cry, and with a waving of its hands, and with a 
wild precipitation of itself upon her in its boundless love, 
sank down in her embrace ? 

" Oh, Marion, Marion ! Oh, my sister ! Oh, my heart's 
dear love ! Oh, joy and happiness unutterable, so to meet 
again ! " 

It \vr5s no dream, no phantom conjured up by hope and 
fear, but Marion, sweet Marion ! So beautiful, so happy, so 
unalloyed by care and trial, so elevated and exalted in her 
loveliness, that as the setting sun shone brightly on her up- 
turned face, she might have been a spirit visiting the earth 
upon some healing mission. 

Clinging to her sister, who had dropped upon a seat and 
bent down over her, and smiling through her tears, and 
kneeling close before her, with both arms twining round her, 
and never turning for an instant from her face ; and with the 
glory of the setting sun upon her brow, and with the soft 
tranquillity of evening gathering around them, Marion at 
length broke silence — her voice, so calm, low, clear- and 
pleasant, well-tuned to the time. 



422 THE BAITLE OF LIFE. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now 
again " 

" Stay, my sweet love ! A moment ! Oh, Marion, to hea 
you speak again I " 

She could not bear the voice she loved so well, at first. 

" When this was my dear home, Grace, as it will be now 
again, I loved him from my soul. I loved him most de 
votedly. I would have died for him, though I was so young 
I never slighted his affection in my secret breast for on< 
brief instant It was far beyond all price to me. Althougl 
it is so long ago, and past and gone, and everything is whoU; 
changed, I could not bear to think that you, who love so welJ 
should think I did not truly love him once. I never love< 
him better, Grace, than when he left this very scene upoi 
this very day. I never loved him better, dear one, than 
did that night when / left here." 

Her sister, bending over her, could only look into her face 
and hold her fast 

" But he had gained, unconsciously," said Marion, with ; 
•i ontle smile, " another heart, before I knew that I had on* 
.J give him. That heart — yours, my ister — was so yielde< 
up, in all its other tenderness, to me, was so devoted, an( 
so noble, that it plucked its love away, and kept its secre 
from all eyes but mine — ah ! what other eyes were quickene( 
by such tenderness and gratitude ! — and was content to sac 
rifice itself to me. But I knew something of its t ,s. 
knew the struggle it had made. I knew its high, inestimabl 
worth to him, and his appreciation of it, let him love me a 
he would. I knew the debt I owed it I had its great ex 
ample every day before me. What you had done for me, 
knew that I could do, Grace, if I would, for you. I neve 
laid my head down on my pillow but I prayed with tears t< 
do it I never laid my head down on my pillow but 
thought of Alfred's own words, on the day of his departure 
and how truly he had said (for I knew that by you) tha 
there were victories gained every day, in struggling hearts 
to which these fields of battle were as nothing. Thinkini 
more and more upon the great endurance cheerfully sus 
tained, and never known or cared for, that there must b 
every day and hour, in that great strife of which he spoke 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 423 

my trial seemed to grow light and easy ; and He who knows 
our hearts, my dearest, at this moment, and who knows there 
is no drop of bitterness or grief— of anything but unmixed 
happiness — in mine, enabled me to make the resolution that 
I never would be Alfred's wife. That he should be my 
brother, and your husband, if the course I took could bring 
that happy end to pass ; but that I never would (Grace, I 
then loved him dearly, dearly !) be his wife 1 " 

" O Marion ! O Marion ! " 

" I had tried to seem indifferent to him "—and she pressed 
her sister's face against her own— "but that was hard, and 
you were always his true advocate. I had tried to tell you 
of my resolution, but you would never hear me — you would 
never understand me. The time was drawing near for his 
return. I felt that I must act before the daily intercourse 
between us was renewed. I knew that one great pang under- 
gone at that time would save a lengthened agony to all of 
us. I knew that if I went away then, that end must follow 
which has followed, and which has made us both so happy, 
Grace. I wrote to good Aunt Martha for a refuge in her 
house— I did not then tell her all, but something of my story 
— and she freely promised it. While I was contesting that 
step with myself, and with my love of you ar ' home, Mr. 
Warden, brought here by an accident, became fc. some time 
our companion." 

" I have sometimes feared of late years that this might 
have been," exclaimed her sister, and her countenance was 
ashy pale. " You never loved him — and you married him in 
your self-sacrifice to me ! " 

" He was then," said Jlarion, drawing her sister closer to 
her, " on the eve of going secretly away for a long time. He 
wrote to me after leaving here, told me what his condition 
and prospects really were, and offered me his hand. He 
told me he had seen I was not happy in the prospect ol 
Alfred's return. I believe he thought my heart had no part 
in that contract ; perhaps thought I might have loved him 
once, and did not then ; perhaps thought that when I tried 
to seem indifferent I tried to hide indifference, — I cannot telL 
But I wished that you should feel me wholly lost to Alfred — 
hopeless to him — dead. Do you understand me, love ? " 




iX' 



m 



4^ THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

Her sister looked into her face attentively. She seemed 
in doubt 

" I saw Mr. Warden, and confided in his honour — charged 
him with my secret, on the eve of his and my departure. 
He kept it. Do you understand me, dear ? " 

Grace looked confusedly upon her. She scarcely seemed 
to hear. 

" My love, my sister ! " said Marion, "recall your thoughts 
a moment — listen to me. Do not look so strangely on me. 
There are countries, dearest, where those who would abjure 
a misplaced passion, or would strive against some cherished 
feeling of their hearts and conquer it, retire into a hopeless 
solitude, and close the world against themselves and worldly 
loves and hopes for ever. When women do so, they assume 
that name which is so dear to you and me, and call each 
other Sisters. But there may be sisters, Grace, who, in the 
broad world out of doors, and underneath its free sky, and 
in its crowded places and among its busy life, and trying to 
assist and cheer it and to do some good, learn the same 
lesson, and with hearts still fresh and young, and open to all 
happiness and means of happiness, can say the battle is long 
past, the victory long won. And such a one am I. You 
understand me now ? " 

Still she looked fixedly upon her, and made no reply. 

" O Grace, dear Grace," said Marion, clinging yet more ten- 
derly and fondly to that breast from which she had been so long 
exiled, " if you were not a happy wife and mother— if I had no 
little namesake here — if Alfred, my kind brother, were not your 
own fond husband — from whence could I derive the ecstasy 
I feel to-night ? But as I left here, so I have returned. My 
heart has known no other love, my hand has never been be- 
stowed apart from it; I am still your maiden sister — un- 
married, unbetrothed — your own old loving Marion, in whose 
affection you exist alone and have no partner, Grace." 

She understood her now. Her face relaxed, sobs came 
to her relief, and falling on her neck she wept and wept, 
and fondled her as if she were a child again. 

When they were more composed, they found that the 
Doctor and his sister, good Aunt Martha, were standing 
near at hand, with Alfred. 



THE BATTI.E OF LIFE. 425 

•*This is a weary day for me," said good Aunt Martha, 
smiling through her tears, as she embraced her nieces, " for 
I lose my dear companion in making you all happy, and 
what can you give me in return for my Marion ? " 

" A converted brother," said the Doctor. 

"That's something, to be sure," retorted Aunt Martha, 
"in such a farce as " 

" No, pray don't," said the Doctor penitently. 

"Well, I won't," replied Aunt Marfha. "But I consider 
myself ill-used. I don't know what's to become of me with- 
out my Marion, after we have lived together half a dozen 
years." 

"You must come and live here, I supixjse," replied the 
Doctor. " We shan't quarrel now, Martha." 

"Or get married, Aunt," said Alfred. 

" Indeed," returned the old lady, " I think it might be a 
good speculation if I were to set my cap at Michael Warden, 
who, I hear, is come home much the better for his absence 
in all respects. But as I knew him when he was a boy, and 
I was not a very young woman then, perhaps he mightn't 
respond. So I'll make up my mind to go and live with 
Marion when she marries, and until then (it will not be very 
long, I dare say) to live alone. What dovou say, Brother? " 

" I've a great mind to say it's a ridiculous world altogether, 
and there's nothing serious in it," observed the poor old 
Doctor. 

" You might take twenty affidavits of it if you chose, An- 
thony," said his sister, ** but nobody would believe you with 
such eyes as those." 

" It's a world full of hearts," said the Doctor, hugging his 
younger daughter, and bending across her to hug (irace — for 
he couldn't separate the sisters; "and a serious world, with 
all its folly — even with mine, which was enough to have 
swamped the whole globe ; and a world on which the sun 
never rises but it looks upon a thousand bloodless battles 
ihat are some set-off against the miseries and wickedness of 
Battle-Fields ; and a world we need be careful how we libel 
(Heaven forgive us !), for it is a world of sacred mysteries, 
and its Creator only knows what lies beneath the surface of 
His lightest image." 



426 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

You would not be the better pleased with my rude pen if 
it dissected and laid open to your view the transports of this 
family, long severed and now reunited. Therefore I will not 
follow the poor Doctor through his humbled recollection ot 
the sorrow he had had when Marion was lost to him ; nor 
will I tell how serious he had found that world to be in 
which some love, deep-anchored, is the portion of all human 
creatures ; nor how such a trifle as the absence of one little 
unit in the great abi^rd account had stricken him to the 
ground ; nor how, in compassion for his distress, his sister 
had, long ago, revealed the truth to him by slow degrees, 
and brought him to the knowledge of the heart of his self- 
banished daughter, and to that daughter's side. 

Nor how Alfred Heathfield had been told the truth too, 
in the course of that then current year; and Marion had 
seen him, and had promised him, as her brother, that on her 
birthday, in th c evening, Grace should know it from her lips 
at last. 

" I beg your pardon, Doctor," said Mr. Snitchey, looking 
into the orchard, " but have I liberty to come in ? " 

Without waiting for permission, he came straight to 
Marion, and kissed her hand quite joyfully. 

"If Mr. Craggs had been alive, my dear Miss Marion," 
said Mr. Snitchey, " he would have had great interest in this 
occasion. It might have suggested to him, Mr. Alfred, that 
our life is not too easy, perhaps ; that, taken altogether, it 
will bear any little smoothing we can give it. But Mr. 
Craggs was a man who could endure to be convinced, Sir ; 
he was always open to conviction. If he were open to con- 
viction now, I — this is weakness. — Mrs. Snitchey, my dear " 
— at his summons that lady appeared from behind the door — 
" you are among old friends." 

Mrs. Snitchey having delivered her congratulations, took 
her husband aside. 

" One moment, Mr. Snitchey," said that lady. " It is not 
in my nature to rake up the ashes of the departed." 

" No, my dear," returned her husband. 

" Mr. Craggs is " 

" Yes, my dear, he is deceased," said Mr. Snitchey. 

^ But I ask you if you recollect,'' pursued his wxfe^ *' that 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 



427 



evening of the ball ? I only ask you that. If you do, and 

if your memory has not entirely failed you, Mr. Snitchey, 

and if you are not absolutely in your dotage, I ask you to 

nor connect this time with that — to remember how I begged and 

in prayed you, on my knees " 

" Upon your knees, my dear ? " said Mr. Snitchey. 

"Yes," said Mrs. Snitchey confidently, "and you know 
it — to beware of that man — to observe his eye — and now to 
tell me whether I was right, and whether at that moment he 
knew secrets which he didn't choose to tell." 

"Mrs. Snitchey," returned her husband, in her ear— 
" Madam, did you ever observe anything in my eye ? " 

"No," said Mrs. Snitchey sharply. "Don't flatter your- 
self." 

" Because, Ma'am, that night," he continued, twitching her 
by the sleeve, " it happens that we both knew secrets which 
we didn't choose to tell, and both knew just the same — 
professionally. And so the less you say about such things 
the better, Mrs. Snitchey ; and take this as a warning to 
have wiser and more charitable eyes another time. — Miss 
Marion, J wrought a friend of yours along with me. Here, 
Mistress ! ' 

Poor Clemency, with her apron to her eyes, came slowly 
in, escorted by her husband — the latter doleful with the 
presentiment that if she abandoned herself to grief, the 
Nutmeg Grater was done for. 

"Now, Mistress," said the lawyer, checking Marion as she 
ran towards her, and interposing himself between them, 
" what's the matter with you ? " 

" The matter ! " cried poor Clemency. 

When, looking up in wonder and in indignant remon- 
strance, and in the added emotion of a great roar from Mr. 
Britain, and seeing that sweet face so well-remembered close 
before her, she stared, sobbed, laughed, cried, screamed, 
embraced her, held her fast, released her, fell on Mr. 
Snitchey and embraced him (much to Mrs. Snitchey's indig- 
nation), fell on the Doctor and embraced him, fell on Mr. 
Britain and embraced him, and concluded by embracing 
herself, throwing her apron over her head, and going into 
hysterics behind it 




438 THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 

A stranger had come into the orchard after Mr. Snitchey, 
and had remained apart, near the gate, without being ob> 
served by any of the group — for they had little spare atten- 
tion to bestow, and that had been monopolized by the 
ecstasies of Clemency. He did not appear to wish to be 
observed, but stood alone, with downcast eyesj and there 
was an air of dejection about him (though he was a gentle- 
man of a gallant appearance) which the general happiness 
rendered more remarkable. 

None but the quick eyes of Aunt Martha, however, re- 
marked him at all ; but almost as soon as she espied him, 
she was in conversation with him. Presently, going to 
where Marion stood with Grace and her little namesake, she 
whispered something in Marion's ear, at which she started 
and appeared surprised ; but soon recovering from her con- 
fusion, she timidly approached the stranger in Aunt Martha's 
company, and engaged in conversation with him too. 

"Mr. Britain," said the lawyer, putting his hand in his 
pocket and bringing out a legal-looking document, while this 
was going on, "I congratulate you. You are now the whole 
and sole proprietor of that freehold tenement at present oc- 
cupied and held by yourself as a licensed tavern, or house 
of public entertainment, and commonly called or known by 
the sign of the Nutmeg Grater. Your wife lost one house 
through my client, Mr. Michael Warden, and now gains 
another. I shall have the pleasure of canvassing you for the 
county one of these fine mornings." 

" Would it make any difference in the vote if the sign was 
altered. Sir ? " asked Britain. 

" Not in the least," replied the lawyer. 

" Then," said Mr. Britain, handing him back the convey- 
ance, "just clap in the words 'and Thimble' — will you be 
so good ? — and I'll have the two mottoes painted up in the 
parlour, instead of my wife's portrait." 

"And let me," said a voice behind them — it was the 
stranger's, Michael Warden's — " let me claim the benefit of 
those inscriptions. Mr. Heathfield and Dr. Jeddler, I might 
have deeply wronged you both. That I did not is no virtue 
of my own- I will not say that I am six years vriser than I 
was, or better. But I have known, at any rate, that term of 



THE BATTLE OF LIFE. 429 

self-reproach. I can urge no reason why you should dea] 
gently with me. I abused the hospitality of this house; 
and learned my own demerits, with a shame I never have 
forgotten (yet with some profit, too, I would fain hope), 
from one" — ^he glanced at Marion — "to whom I made my 
humble supplication for forgiveness when I knew her merit 
and my deep unworthiness. In a few days I shall quit this 
place for ever. I entreat your pardon. Do as you would 
be done by ! Forget and forgive ! " 

Time — from whom I had the latter portion of thi.«; story, 
and with whom I have the pleasure of a personal acquaint- 
ance of some five-and-thirty years' duration — informed me, 
leaning easily upon his scythe, that Michael Warden never 
went away again, and never sold his house, but opened it 
afresh, maintained a golden mean of hospitality, and had a 
wife, the pride and honour of that countryside, whose name 
was Marion. But as I have observed that Time confuses 
facts occasionally, I hardly know what weight to give to 
his authority. 



THE END. 



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